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The impact of natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires can be felt for weeks, months, and even years after disaster strikes. Rebuilding and recovery take a lot of time and effort and resources often run short, leading to greater complications for evacuees and others who have been affected. Here are 5 of the most effective ways to help disaster victims:
1. Donate to accredited disaster relief organizations
If you have the ability to donate cash to an accredited disaster relief organization, this will always be the most helpful way to help disaster victims. Cash donations offer the most flexibility and can be directed and used where they are needed most. If you are unable to make a monetary donation but still want to contribute to the relief effort, your next best option is to contact an accredited organization to find out about volunteer disaster relief.
You can also donate supplies and equipment, but before you do, reach out to an accredited organization to find out what they need and how best to help disaster victims. Sending unsolicited or unnecessary goods or supplies directs limited resources away from providing essential services, and can actually do more harm than good.
There are many reputable organizations to donate to after a natural disaster. Every organization contributes its own expertise to the relief effort, so do your research before you donate to find a disaster relief organization that speaks to you. Here are some of the most popular organizations:
- United Way
- Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response team
- The Humane Society of the United States' Disaster Relief Fund
- The American Red Cross
- Feeding Texas
- Houston Food Bank
- Galveston Food Bank
- Corpus Christi Food Bank
- Coalition for the Homeless of Houston
- Texas Diaper Bank
- Star of Hope Mission
- Hope for Haiti
- UNICEF USA
- Direct Relief
- Samaritan’s Purse
If you would like to help pets and other non-humans affected by natural disasters, consider donating to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Best Friends Animal Society and the South Florida Wildlife Center.
For more information on how to help disaster victims, visit Ready.gov.
2. Plan a fundraiser
Organizing a fundraiser, whether you conduct it independently or in conjunction with your kids’ school, your church, or your community association, is a great way to raise funds or collect donations that can be sent into evacuation and relief zones via an accredited organization. Before you start collecting money or supplies, contact the organization you intend to donate to and confirm what is needed.
If you are unable to organize a fundraiser or want to cast an even wider net, you can also raise money using crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe or YouCaring.
3. Send goods and supplies to loved ones in affected areas
Essentials like furniture, mattresses, and clothing are often lost or destroyed during a natural disaster like a hurricane. Stores may not reopen right away and supplies of common necessities might be scarce, so replacing these items can be difficult. If you can, get in touch with loved ones in affected areas and find out what they need before you ship household goods their way. The most commonly required items include:
- Food and water
TSI can help you ship supplies and equipment to your loved ones as quickly as possible. Learn more about our expedited shipping services.
4. Ship supplies into recovery and evacuation zones
If you don’t have any loved ones in the area but still want to help, consider shipping much-needed supplies into recovery and evacuation zones. Always contact an accredited organization before donating relief supplies—sending goods that aren’t needed will add to the workload relief workers and volunteers are already dealing with, and will divert limited resources and attention away from the relief effort.
Items that are commonly needed in evacuation zones include:
- Medical supplies
- Pallets of water or food
- Heavy equipment and machinery
- Construction materials
Our emergency shipping services can help get life-saving materials to their destination fast.
5. Give blood
Blood is essential for helping victims recover after a natural disaster. While governments and qualified businesses are capable of sending other medical supplies into evacuation and recovery zones, they cannot supply this much-needed but often forgotten resource.
Learn more about the role you can play in natural disaster response from MSW@USC, the online Master of Social Work program at the University of Southern California.