With back to back hurricanes blowing up the south and another two heading towards the Caribbean and Veracruz, many are wondering how to help. The staggering cost to repair & rebuild is predicted to be as high as two hundred billion dollars.
Only wealthy governments and donations from tens of millions of people can come up with those kind of dollars. Donations to the Red Cross are the most popular way to assist but by no means the only way. The Texas Tribune put together a great list of organizations where you can volunteer time or donate money. The Red Cross is a great organization but it’s also very large -- which means bureaucracy, which means it’s not as speedy as it could be. And that’s why I like the Texas Tribune list. Your donations will go directly to the places that need it.
The Tribune list compiles dozens of local volunteer options covering need for lawyers, musicians, chefs and medical personnel; to places you can donate blood, or hospitals you can assist at or donate to, or local animal shelters that need help with displaced pets -- their list goes on and on. Even if you live far outside the disaster zones there are plenty of options to assist.
PBS news (online) has a similar list to assist hurricane Irma victims. And while there are plenty of food banks collecting non perishables and cleaning supplies, recovery experts all agree that donating cash, not goods, is best. Goods can clog up supply lines and likely go to waste, case in point -- after hurricane Katrina, National Guard destroyed tens of thousands of bottles of water because folks just sent too much of it.
Donating money directly to local food banks operating within the disaster zone is far more beneficial than donating perishable goods to an organization near you and having them ship it. The Texas Tribune link above offers several options for local food banks that accept online donations, the largest being Central Texas Food Bank, while in Florida they have the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
The Category 4 hurricane that hit southeast Texas Friday evening is expected to cause “widespread devastation” to the area.
Torrential downpours are expected to continue as power outages, floods, raging waters, and the potential for tornadoes threaten coastal and inland residents.
Hurricane Harvey, although weakening, is expected to hover over the next few days bringing more deadly conditions.
After the initial flooding and torrential downpour subside, Hurricane Harvey will put thousands of residents at risk for major health issues.
In addition to drowning, falls and other deadly injuries, victims of Harvey may endure the following:
Many of those who did prepare for the storm may not have stored plenty of food, especially healthy fresh food. Those trapped in their homes may find the food they did store contaminated by flood water.
The World Health Organization states that floods bring water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A. Vector borne diseases include Zika, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile.
Mosquitos initially get washed away during the storm, but the resulting puddles of water take weeks to dry and make ideal breeding grounds for insects.
The water gets dirty pretty quickly. People touching the flood water need to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.
Moreover due to the moisture that seeped into walls and floors of houses, mold can grow and cause a variety of respiratory issues among other physical ailments. Massive disinfecting needs to take place before coming home to flood water contaminated residencies.
Chemicals from garages and fuel seeping into flood water expose victims to many compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene that can cause a multitude of health effects including those that affect breathing, skin, the gut, balance, thought, and memory.
When one loses their home, neighborhood, income, treasured belongings and more, it’s devastating. Post traumatic stress disorder may ensue.
To combat these risks, medical personnel and the CDC are preparing. Among food, shelter and clothes, paper products, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, tetanus vaccinations and counselors will be needed in mass quantities.
Blood supplies will be needed as residents who routinely donate have evacuated the area. Donating blood at your local blood bank may be shipped to the area in need.
United Blood Services have locations throughout the country that can accept your blood Donation. Contact UBS here.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations. On their website, they ask to visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations online and by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
The Red Cross and Salvation Army may also need local volunteers to help set up shelters. Contact the above numbers.
Local volunteers are asked to donate supplies to nearby recreation centers housing evacuees.
Supply drives in out-of-state locations may not be accepted directly but could help local charities who need to ship supplies to the affected area.