Some starting points on how to help.
Photo by Rafael S. Fabres/Getty Images
If it seems like it’s been a bad year for disasters so far, it’s not your imagination.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser, earlier this month made note of the volume of extreme weather events unfolding across the world. “There can be little doubt that 2017 is turning into a year of historic significance in the struggle against climate change and all the other risks that put human life in danger and threaten the peace and security of exposed and vulnerable communities around the world who find themselves in harm’s way from hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes,” he said.
Many of those events have happened close to home, with the most recent devastation in the US territory of Puerto Rico. Last week, Hurricane Maria dealt the island an intensely brutal blow. Not only is the island largely still without power, but the storm also destroyed about 80 percent of the country’s crops for the year. Supplies of food, clean water, and medicine are reportedly running low, and many are still struggling just to connect with family members to let them know they are okay. Relief groups are starting to come in, but Puerto Rico residents are going to need of a lot of help for some time.
Before Maria, there was Hurricane Harvey, which brought record-breaking rains and flooding to Houston and other parts of the Gulf Coast in late August. It was followed by another exceptionally intense Hurricane Irma, which battered the Caribbean and Florida, leaving behind devastating scenes of ruin. And then there were the back-to-back Mexico earthquakes — which caused more than 300 deaths in total and dozens of buildings to collapse.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by so many disasters, and the hundreds of deaths, displaced communities, ruined livelihoods, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage they’ve caused. But there are a number of things you can do to help.
One easy way to pitch in is to give money to one or more of the many charities involved with the response and recovery in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. Here are some suggestions and a little guidance if you’re not sure where to start.
This ProPublica article about giving after a disaster is worth reading in its entirety, but it makes a couple of key points to keep in mind:
• Do your own research before giving to any group.
• Groups with strong local ties to their community can sometimes be the best option.
• You have a right to demand accountability of the groups you give to.
Vox’s Dylan Matthews also reviewed some good rules to follow whenever you’re giving to charity.
Now, if you’re looking for some groups to send money or other support to as they respond to the earthquakes and hurricanes, here are some options, broken down by each area impacted.
Where applicable, we’ve included a rating from Charity Navigator or Charity Watch, independent groups that evaluates how well organizations perform financially and how efficiently they use the donations they receive.
International Community Foundation: This charity normally does a lot of work in Mexico, and is raising money for earthquake relief in a number of different areas in Mexico impacted by the two earthquakes that hit. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Global Giving: A charity crowdfunding site that is attempting to raise $1 million to be used exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts in Mexico. You can give to earthquake relief here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Red Cross Mexico: Usually the first group people think of when giving after a disaster. You can donate to the victims of Mexico City quake here, as well as the victims of the Chiapas and Oaxaca earthquakes here.
(A series of reports by ProPublica have raised questions as to how Red Cross uses its donations for emergency relief. You can find some of those stories here. Journalist Jonathan Katz also weighed in on the issue in an interview with Vox’s Sean Illing.)
UNICEF Mexico: The United Nations Children’s Fund specifically works to support children impacted by natural disasters, including building “child-friendly spaces” after disaster strikes. You can give here. (3/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Hurricanes Maria and Irma
ConPRmetidos: The Puerto Rican organization focused on public-private partnership is aiming to raise $150,000 for relief and recovery. You can give here.
American Red Cross: Usually the first group people think of when giving after a disaster. It says it is providing shelters for those displaced by Irma, and it has thousands of volunteers on the ground. You can give here. (3/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Salvation Army: The Christian charity is emphasizing its intentions to help with long-term recovery. You can give here.
Americares: The nonprofit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Volunteer Florida: The state-based group is accepting volunteers and donations. Learn more here.
United Way of Miami-Dade: One of the major local nonprofits that will be working on Irma recovery. You can give here.
South Florida Wildlife Center: The group is centering its efforts on animals affected by the storm. You can give here.
Brigid’s Crossing Foundation: An animal shelter in Naples, Florida. You can give here.
Check out Charity Navigator’s Hurricane Irma page if you’d like to see more options.
American Red Cross: Usually the first group people think of when giving after a disaster. It says it is providing shelters for those displaced by Harvey, and it has thousands of volunteers on the ground in the state. You can give here. (3/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
All Hands: This nonprofit recommended to Vox by disasterologist Samantha Montano has staff on the ground in Texas and is in contact with emergency management officials about assisting in the response and recovery. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Foundation Beyond Belief: The humanist group, also recommended by Montano, is evaluating how best to use the funds it collects. You can give here.
Salvation Army: The Christian charity is emphasizing its intentions to help with long-term recovery in Houston. You can give here.
Greater Houston Community Fund: A broad-based relief fund established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. You can give here.
Local food banks: The Houston Press has compiled a list of food banks in the affected area, including Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and more. They recommend contacting a food bank directly about their need and what you can do.
Houston Humane Society: The group is helping marshal care and shelter for pets in the area. You can give here. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas is undertaking similar efforts. You can give here. The San Antonio Humane Society is doing the same. More here. There is also Austin Pets Alive, which you can give to here.
Americares: The nonprofit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others in Texas. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
Portlight: A disaster response group dedicated specifically to people with disabilities. It is seeking to help affected people with evacuation and finding shelter, any medical equipment needs they might have, and more. You can learn more about its efforts here.
SBP: The New Orleans-based organization is planning to send AmeriCorps volunteers, assist local leaders and nonprofits, and eventually help rebuild damaged or destroyed homes. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)