Hurricane Matthew was the most powerful storm to hit the United States in nearly a decade and was responsible for the tragic loss of life in Haiti as well as in the U.S. (particularly in North Carolina). Help recovery efforts underway at home and abroad through these organizations. 

By Lauren Phillips
October 12, 2016
Damage from Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean island of Haiti

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a major natural disaster like Hurricane Matthew, but there are plenty of ways to assist victims of the hurricane in the United States and the Caribbean, both right now and into the days and weeks after the hurricane. 

Experts confirm that when disasters occur the best way to contribute is by donating money; in many cases, especially international disasters, collecting items can be more of a hindrance than a help to the aid organizations that then have to transport and distribute items that may not be needed, according to the USAID Center for International Disaster Information. Instead, make monetary contributions that organizations can then use to purchase necessary supplies.

Here are ways you can help with your money, your time, and even by giving a donation of blood.

Helping in Haiti
On this Caribbean island, the unofficial death toll has mounted to more than 1,000, and an estimated 1.4 million people across the country are in need of assistance. If you want to be specific and direct in your donation, you have some options that are already on the ground.

Partners in HealthDr. Paul Farmer’s nonprofit that provides comprehensive healthcare to people in developing countries, supports 12 health centers and 10 cholera treatment centers in Haiti and is in urgent need of donations to support aid efforts as the organization seeks to treat patients and prevent a cholera outbreak.

Community Development International is not only focusing on repairs in Les Cayes (one of the areas most damaged by the storm) but also by helping to rebuild Nouvo Tè Farm, an educational garden, farm, and training center in the Les Cayes area that teaches Haitian farmers how to farm sustainably.

Hope for Haiti, which seeks to improve the quality of life for Haitian people, especially children, is responding to destruction in Les Cayes and seeking to distribute life-saving supplies, including medication. They have a list of supplies needed and are also accepting monetary donations that will go toward providing affected families with needed supplies.

Helping in Cuba
Unfortunately, direct aid to Cuba’s eastern region affected by Hurricane Matthew (including the devastation of the city of Baracoa) is not easily accomplished yet.

Helping in North Carolina
The damage in North Carolina is expected to continue as historic flooding causes rivers to overflow and dams to fail; several counties have been told to evacuate since the storm blew through the state.

To help North Carolinians as they continue to face disastrous flooding, donate to the North Carolina Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund; all funds will go directly to nonprofit organizations serving local victims. To volunteer, visit the North Carolina Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website to connect with organizations around the state who are asking for assistance in disaster recovery.

Helping in South Carolina
In South Carolina, the United Way Association of South Carolina is working on assessing damage and connecting volunteers to aid agencies that need help statewide. You can also donate to affected areas in South Carolina or specifically to Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties’ United Way branches. If you’re interested in helping the Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County area specifically, sign up with Lowcountry Volunteer Connections—the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s volunteer site—to find the right opportunity or donate to the Community Foundation’s Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding Fund.

Helping in Georgia
In Georgia, the United Way of the Coastal Empire is accepting donations to help fund its relief efforts and affiliated programs in the area. To be connected to volunteer opportunities, visit HandsOn Savannah, United Way’s local volunteer site.

Helping in Florida
In Florida, Volunteer Florida is helping to match prospective volunteers with opportunities across organizations. You can fill out a registration form, and Volunteer Florida will contact you with opportunities that match your profile.

The Ongoing Need for Blood Donations After a Natural Disaster
The Red Cross had to cancel several blood drives in areas affected by the storm, worsening the already urgent need for blood and platelets nationwide. Blood can be donated anywhere in the country at local blood banks to help lessen this deficiency and ensure patients across the country, including victims of Hurricane Matthew, have the blood they need. Contact your local blood bank or the Red Cross to make an appointment.