Hurricane Irma caused such severe damage in the Caribbean that it destroyed 95% of the buildings on the island of Barbuda alone. Puerto Rico is still coping with major flooding and widespread power outages. The hurricane tore through the Florida Keys before slamming into Miami, leaving the city flooded. It traveled north along the west coast of the state, ripping down buildings and causing major flooding in cities like Tampa and Jacksonville, before swirling into Georgia and the Carolinas.
There are still many people without electric and water — over 6 million as we speak — about a third of Florida’s residents and hundreds of thousands in Georgia. My own parents who live in Central Florida on the west coast just got their power and water back last night thankfully. They also managed to get through the hurricane with just a busted fence. Not everyone was as lucky.
All this just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas and its surrounding areas.
So many families need help.
It can be overwhelming to figure out what you can do, so we’ve compiled this list of good organizations to consider for donations, volunteering opportunities, and other ways to lend a hand. Any amount of help will make a difference in these families’ lives.
Related: 5 important tech tips to keep your family safer in hurricanes and other emergency situations
Donate Money, Urgent Supplies, and/or Your Time to Affected Areas
All of these organizations are in active need of money, food, and/or supplies — especially since so many of them are working twice as hard to provide help and relief to the victims of two hurricanes. Always check their sites or social media accounts before making donations to see what they actually need.
An easy way to donate to American Red Cross is to text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross is also collecting donations to help in recovery efforts.
Take a look at National VOAD, an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters through volunteer efforts and donations, and Volunteer Florida, which partners with a slew of relief organizations to provide volunteers and funds.
UNICEF USA is focusing on emergency relief to help children affected by the hurricane get back to school as soon as possible, and The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County has established a disaster relief fund. GoFundMe has aggregated all the campaigns that have been created on its site for Irma victims, and you can make a direct-impact donation that will be distributed to people with verified campaigns.
As parents, we also urge you to consider supporting Miami Diaper Bank and The Diaper Bank of Central Florida, which are in urgent need of packs of diapers and wipes because they’re usually not supplied by disaster relief agencies. UN Women is also collecting donations to supply displaced women and girls in the Caribbean with dignity kits containing health and hygiene products.
Also check out Florida Coalition for the Homeless, Heart to Heart International, Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies (which provides emergency help for the elderly and disabled), Team Rubicon (one of our longtime favorite non-profits), and Save the Children.
Related: Essential safety tips for kids: Talking about crowds, emergencies and separation
Support Pet and Animal Rescue
Irma has separated many pets from their owners, and displaced and stranded wildlife such as alligators and manatees. Check out SPCA International Disaster Relief Fund, ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response Fund, National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, and the Animal Defense League to see how you can help their efforts.
Donate to Local Food Banks in Florida
Food banks in the area are working in overdrive to remain fully stocked. Organizations worth investigating are Feeding Florida, Feeding South Florida, Harry Chapin Food Bank, and the Food Bank of Manatee.
Donate Blood to the Florida Area
As patients were evacuated to hospitals in the hurricane’s wake, the storm interfered with scheduled collections, which means there’s increased need for donations — from platelet donors and people with O negative blood specifically, but all donations are encouraged. The American Red Cross, OneBlood, and LifeSouth are good organizations to contact.
Donate Shelter to Displaced Floridians
Millions of Floridians were evacuated as the storm approached, and many of them haven’t been able to return due to overwhelming damage in their homes and neighborhoods. Airbnb has set up a service (and is waiving its fees) to match people affected by Irma who need a place to stay with anyone who has accommodations they can spare. If you happen to have one or know someone who does, you’ll be providing an invaluable service.
You may also want to sign up on Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry to rebuild homes after Irma passes.
We’ll continue to update this list, so keep checking back — or leave any favorite orgs we might have missed in comments. And thank you so much for helping in any way you can.
Top photo: New York National Guard; middle photo: Georgia National Guard via cc license; bottom photo: City of St. Pete via cc license