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The Atlantic’s most powerful hurricane ever recorded created a path of destruction from the Caribbean to the southeastern United States. See how you can help organizations doing work directly with local communities.

By Tracey Minkin Lauren Phillips Mary Tomlinson and Taylor Eisenhauer

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a major natural disaster like Hurricane Irma, 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 ahead.

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.

Helping Wherever Is Needed

Want to make sure affected areas continue to be supported? The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) focuses on supporting long-term recovery for natural disasters, supporting services after the news focus has moved on. (Google has selected CDP for its donation channel.) Donate to CDP’s Irma Recovery Fund, here.  

Helping on the Mainland U.S.

Florida and the Southeastern U.S.

To immediately support efforts underway, you can donate to the Florida Disaster Fund, the state’s official private fund that helps communities respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. One hundred percent of funds go to disaster-related response—there are no overhead costs. To donate by credit card, click here. To make a one-time donation of $10, text the word DISASTER to 20222. (A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile bill; you must be 18+ and all donations must be authorized by the account holder.)

GlobalGiving works with local organizations to ensure both immediate relief and long-term rebuilding. All donations will support survivors’ immediate needs, as well as long-term recovery efforts.

If you are interested in personally volunteering 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 Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. in Ft. Myers, Florida, supports both the students and educators impacted by the hurricane. Donations will be used to replenish classroom supplies and to help student readjust as they return to classes on September 25. All of the designated donations will be used toward these relief efforts.

Water Mission, a faith-based charity that operates out of North Charleston, South Carolina, provides access to safe drinking water in the wake of natural disasters. Donations for Irma relief will be matched by an anonymous $100,000 donor. Proceeds will go toward helping Florida and the rest of the southeastern U.S., as well as St. Martin, Haiti, and Mexico.

Georgia’s  MAP International  will be working to provide disaster health kits and medicine to those in need in Florida, as well as the Caribbean, with the donations received.

Kara Franker, a Miami-based writer, has started a fundraiser for residents of the Florida Keys who have been affected by Irma. All of the profits made from sales of these beach totes and beach blankets will go directly to a grassroots organizer in the Keys.

Helping in the Caribbean

Throughout the Caribbean

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is partnering with local grassroots organizations on islands both to prepare for and recover from the effects of Irma. Read more about Irma’s devastating impact in the region, where support is being deployed, and how to donate, here.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency operates as essentially the FEMA of the Caribbean, handling the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts in the region. Learn how to donate funds to support this work here.

Barbuda

More than any other island thus far in the path of Irma, Barbuda and its people have experienced total devastation. It’s estimated that close to 95% of the houses and buildings of Barbuda were destroyed by Irma—and the island lies in the path of Hurricane Jose. Humanitarian relief for the 1600-1800 people of Barbuda is needed immediately and ongoingly. The Waitt Institute & Waitt Foundation, in partnership with International Community Foundation (ICF), have created an emergency response fund, the Barbuda Restoration & Conservation Trust. One hundred percent of the money donated to this fund will go to Barbuda and its people. Read more and donate, here.

The US Virgin Islands (USVI)

The United Way of the US Virgin Islands is coordinating recovery efforts on these islands that bore a heavy toll from Hurricane Irma. Go here to donate to this organization’s efforts.

Puerto Rico

ConPRmetidos is a Puerto Rican nonprofit that works in developing communities on the island. The organization, which partners with the US Department of State and is part of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, has set up a special Irma relief fund, here. According to the organization, funds will be used first for immediate relief needs of food, shelter, and water, and then transition to long-term recovery efforts.

Hurricane Harvey’s Effects: Help Is Still Needed

While we share our love and support via donations to areas affected by Irma, the needs from the devastation will be ongoing for months. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) continues to support longterm recovery efforts; you can support that work via this donation link, here.