Hurricane Irma – Information & Ways to Help
Irma – a massive Category 5 hurricane – tore an enormously destructive path through the Caribbean in early September before making landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, September 10th, with winds up to 130 mph. From there, Irma continued to bring serious wind and water damage, including flooding, through much of Florida and areas of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
As Florida and other states begin to recover from Hurricane Irma, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is providing storm-related updates and information here: http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Individuals, regardless of where they reside, can help those affected by Hurricane Irma. Listed below are resources to connect with in order to make a financial donation, donate blood, or volunteer.
Make a Donation
- American Red Cross: The American Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. After a disaster, financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Click here to donate now.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): The ASPCA’s disaster response team is on the ground with search-and-rescue, sheltering and relocation teams assisting displaced animals from Irma. Donations can be made by contacting ASPCA at 1-800-628-0028 or by visiting their website: https://www.aspca.org/
- Feeding Florida: Feeding Florida as is a statewide network of food banks. Donations made at https://www.feedingflorida.org/will support local food banks helping to feed families in affected areas.
- Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. 100% of funds raised will go toward disaster-related response and recovery; there are no overhead costs. Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, 501(c)(3) charitable organization and are tax deductible. Go to https://www.volunteerflorida.org/donatefdf/ to donate or text DISASTER to 20222 to donate $10.
- Humane Society of the United States (HSUS): The HSUS Animal Rescue Team is deployed in Texas, where they are working with local officials to transport, rescue and care for animals. Donations can be made by visiting their website at http://www.humanesociety.org/news/resources/facts/harvey_help.html?credit=web_hpfs2_082817_id93480558
- IRS – Voluntary Employer Program: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is allowing employers to elect to participate in a program where they can allow employees to forgo vacation, sick, and personal leave in exchange for cash payments made by the employer to charitable organizations providing relief for Harvey or Irma victims. Donated leave will not be included in the employee’s income/wages and employers can deduct cash payments as business expenses. More details here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-17-52.pdf
- Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is providing food, hydration, shelter and clothing to victims and first responders. To make a donation to support their efforts, go to http://www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1-800- SAL-ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.
- United Way Worldwide (UWW): Has launched a national United Way Irma Relief Fund, visit their website at https://www.unitedway.org/hurricane-irma. About the Fund: 100% of all money raised will be distributed to the affected United Ways, no individual donations will go toward administration and overhead at UWW, and the fund is not meant to take away from local funds but rather to complement local efforts.
Important information about charitable giving: The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recently released tips for avoiding phishing scams from individuals attempting to pose as legitimate charity organizations. Click here for more information. The Better Business Bureau of Central New England offers tips to donors on avoiding scammers and donating money to legitimate disaster relief organizations. Click here for more information.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is urging Americans to donate blood to compensate for canceled blood drives in Florida. Go to http://www.redcrossblood.org/ to find a local blood drive.
- Volunteer Florida: www.volunteerflorida.org/irma
- If you wish to volunteer in response to Hurricane Harvey, please visit this link to find National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) members taking volunteers. Many of the organizations prefer or require affiliated volunteers, rather than unaffiliated volunteers. Visit https://www.nvoad.org/ to register as a volunteer.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES
Health and Human Services – HHS: https://www.hhs.gov/
American Red Cross – Contacting Loved Ones: The American Red Cross offers assistance and tips for contacting loved ones in areas of the United States affected by disasters. Click here for more information.
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH): The Disaster Distress Helpline 800-985-5990 provides immediate crisis counseling and help to individuals nationwide who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of a natural or man-made disaster, or incidents of mass violence. The Helpline is available 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The Helpline connects callers to professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. Individuals can call or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
For information on local efforts and to find other local resources, visit http://www.211.orgto find contact information for regional 2-1-1 centers in Florida and other affected states.
Information and a financial toolkit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to assist individuals after a hurricane can be accessed here: CFPB Financial Toolkit
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SOURCES: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and American Red Cross, Texas Health and Human Services., Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
PREPARED BY: 211/mm
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: September 2017