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After the Storm – How to Help with Hurricane Harvey and Irma Clean Up


Many want to help in the immediate aftermath of any natural disaster. For those of us fortunate enough to be unaffected, we look for any way to provide support and assistance. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many want to help.

The southern part of the United States and the Caribbean are experiencing flooding and up-rooted trees. Additionally, millions had no power. However, many face must larger challenges as these scrape the surface.

How can people in Arlington Heights, Chicago, and Illinois help? We live far from from Texas and Florida. Nonetheless, trucks filled with clothes, toiletries, and other essentials depart every day. But what these helpful citizens do not recognize the potential hazards and obstacles these trucks may cause.

How Do I Pick a Charity?

According to Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, advises caution to those who are eager to donate products.

“This is not the time to be donating products or even services,” he says. “That’s frequently the urge, and most often that is the wrong thing to do.” He notes that overall, the damage leaves no place to store or distribute anything. In this time of need, they recommend you send money to people already on the ground.

Ottenhoff says that money donations ensure their donation is used rather than abandoned due to an incredibly influx of products.

Derrick Chubbs, president and CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, agrees. In Chubbs’s opinion, those interested in helping should “donate funds, because we can use those to purchase exactly the type of disaster relief supplies that are going to be most helpful.” Monetary donations also help organizations avoid issues with sorting and distribution of products such as food.

What Factors Should I Consider?

There are several important factors to consider when picking an organization to donate your money to:

  • Will the organization actually use the funds towards Hurricane relief?
  • Is the organization fraudulent?

Examples of Safe Charitable Organizations

According to USA Today, the following organizations are verified as safe and legit organizations to donate Hurricane relief funds to:

  • UNICEF USA states it will target children who have been effected by Hurricane Irma. The organization has been on the ground in affected areas. It provides water treatment and hygiene assistance.
  • Catholic Relief Services seeks donations to assist with Irma relief. It also prepares for additional hurricane affecting the Caribbean Islands.
  • World Vision donations provide immediate supplies and long-term aid to families affecting by Hurricane Irma. 90% of donations go directly to aid those affected.
  • The Red Cross states that “it has mobilized its second massive hurricane response in two weeks and is providing critical aid for Irma and Harvey victims.”
  • Operation USA allows donators to send a check or donate air mileage.
  • Americares has partnered with the states of Texas and Florida to provide emergency health access.
  • GoFundMe has created pages to help with relief efforts in Florida and Caribbean. According to USA Today, “people can donate to a direct-impact fund or create their own fundraisers.”
  • PayPal launched a relief campaign. The organization states that all processing costs will be waived to ensure that 100% of donations go to relief efforts.
  • Habitat for Humanity is helping families effected by Harvey Irma to clean up the damage and rebuild. Make donations at or by calling 1-800-HABITAT.
  • The Salvation Army provides meals, shelter, and psychological and religious care to those affected by Harvey and Irma.
  • The American University of Antigua created a fund for Barbuda to assist in providing food, water, and medical attention as well as long-term recovery aid.
R.F. Wittmeyer

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