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Hurricane Florence finally made landfall over the weekend, ravaging the Atlantic coast with devastating winds and torrential rain. Mandatory evacuation orders were enforced in several coastal cities. And as coverage of people fleeing their homes comes on our televisions and computer screens, those of us not affected by the storm may be feeling helpless and eager. Turn those feelings into action! Here’s how you can help with disaster relief efforts today and every day.
Give money, not things
You may be hoarding extra clothes and supplies, but donate your money, rather than your items, to relief organizations. Unless they’ve made specific item requests, your money will be much more useful to them. Organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way will know what to do with your money better than you ever could. Once immediate relief has been provided to victims, these organizations may have requests for specific items (diapers, sanitation materials, bottled water, etc.).
Another way to help disaster victims is to join the fundraising effort. It’s a great way to get involved if you’re unable to volunteer your time on-site. The federal government sets aside money in case disaster strikes, but their funding decisions are made with the assumption that civilians will help provide financial aid. Start a campaign in your community and rally behind those affected.
Volunteer, even if you’re far away
If you’re strapped for cash and still want to help, look into volunteering opportunities. If you’re able to travel to the affected area(s), that’s great—but don’t show up unannounced. Reach out to a relief organization before showing up on the site. One of the biggest problems that occurs after disasters is an influx of untrained volunteers. This only adds to the chaos and ultimately lessens productivity.
Even if you aren’t geographically close to the disaster area, you can still help! Relief organizations often need help managing and organizing donations immediately after a disaster. Volunteer your time to help streamline the process and get victims the help they need as soon as possible.
It’s easy nowadays to think a disaster is over once it leaves the breaking news coverage and newspaper headlines. But don’t be fooled—disasters take months, sometimes years, to recover from, and there are always ways you can help. Keep raising money, keep donating, keep volunteering.
We never know when disasters are going to happen. Yes, there are certain seasons and conditions that are more conducive to storms like Florence, but we can never be sure when or where they’re going to strike. For that reason, support disaster relief organizations year-round. If you can afford it, donate a small portion of your paycheck every once in a while. If not, see how you can volunteer at your local branch to make an impact before the next disaster.