Hurricane Irma has caused widespread damage to our neighbors in the Caribbean and our friends in Florida. More than 6 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes and many of them are returning to face power outages, flooding and destruction. Preliminary estimates for Irma place the cost of the storm between $50 and $112 billion.
As the rest of us look on from the sidelines, many ask ‘what can be done?’ — especially as choosing the right place to send your money can be so tricky.
When it comes to donating to disaster relief, it really is best to stay as close to the center of the problem as possible. Local, well-organized charities are usually going to ensure that your hard-earned cash is going to go where it is most needed. Industry watchdog Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that rates thousands of charities, looking into the financial transparency of organizations, including how much money goes directly to those in need, versus inflated executives’ salaries.
"Local organizations will continue to work in the community long after the disaster has happened, as they have an established presence in the community,” Charity Navigator spokesperson Sara Nason said in a recent interview.
Here are two charities in the United States and one in the Caribbean that research indicates are getting the job done after Irma:
Heart of Florida United Way
United Way has created the United Way Relief Fund to directly support those people in Central Florida who require basic needs including safety and shelter. Working directly with partners such as the Salvation Army, United Way is able to get to respond immediately, ensuring that 100 percent of donations will get to citizens of Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties right away. Once stabilized, they will shift focus to long-term recovery in the community.
Led by a bipartisan board of commissioners appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the Florida Senate, Volunteer Florida is the premier agency for national service and volunteerism efforts in the Sunshine State. The agency administers $31.7 million in local, state and federal funding for programs all across the state. They have the organization, the oversight and the experience to get the job done.
Check them out here to donate.
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Originally established in 1991 the CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community. It currently comprises 18 states, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, the Virgin Islands and others.
The CDEMA’s mandate includes mobilizing and coordinating disaster relief, along with providing reliable disaster information to inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies that are attempting relief efforts.
Donations can be made here.