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Irma just blew through our beloved State of Florida.
We were incredibly lucky. We were without power for several days but did not experience any damage. When the hurricane was imminent, we were prepped and ready. Orlando is inland enough to not need to evacuate, so we hunkered down, along with millions of other Floridians. It was a long, tense night.
Fortunately, we are blessed to have the resources to spend a night at a hotel ( where I wrote the majority of this post) and the amazing generosity of local friends who housed us when their power was restored. Our hurricane kit was also well-stocked to get us through the initial storm and following day until power was restored in various places around the area. We are minorly inconvenienced but know that many people in Florida and the Carribean have had homes and businesses destroyed. It will take years for them to pick up the pieces and that is devastating. We know that someday we may be one of them and that no one is immune from tragedy. So, we want to do something now to help those who are not as lucky as we are.
Many times, immediately after a disaster many people ask ” How can I help?” If you are in a position to assist, I encourage you to please do something...as it truly takes many hands to rebuild and recover when disaster strikes. There are two big ways you can help!
1) Cash Donation
It seems simple, and I know many people feel like just throwing cash out seems impersonal and a bit callous. But, after a disaster, a cash donation to a trusted organization is incredibly helpful. Disasters deplete financial resources like crazy and many non-profit organizations rely on donations and limited Government grants to provide aid. These organizations need cash donations to purchase the supplies and resources that are needed for any specific circumstance. If you are concerned about giving your money to just anyone, consider one of these organizations I list below. I understand that there is controversy surrounding the American Red Cross, however, they do provide disaster relief and I do not desire this to be a controversial post, just a resource. I suggest you do your research and do what feels right to you. Charity Watch is a nice guide that rates and reviews charities based on their records.
For our particular situation here in Florida, I do prefer to give to local churches and grassroots organizations. If you live in an area impacted like we are, consider donating to a local food bank or church organization that may be operating a shelter or helping families rebuild homes. You will be able to see your dollars directly go to work in your community, which is rewarding and helps you feel better about knowing where your money is going.
We also personally donate to Compassion International as we are blessed to sponsor a child. However, you can also donate one-time for them to aid in disaster relief efforts internationally. It is an organization that we trust and I encourage others to support.
Specific to Irma relief, I think it is important to remember that several other countries have also been severely impacted. A few fundraisers have been started to aid in relief efforts for those impacted Carribean countries.
- Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Hurricane Relief Fund.
- Anguilla Beaches Volunteer Florida
- GlobalGiving Foundation Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
If cash flow is low, consider setting up a car-wash or bake sale at school or church to raise funds for disaster relief.
2)Help Your Neighbors
It can take a LONG time for disaster relief organizations to get to your specific area. This isn’t their fault. There are a lot of needs after a natural disaster. However, if you are in a position to help, reach out to neighbors. Check on them. Help clean up debris. Many hands make light work. We have helped friends clean up their yards and are also blessed by the numerous friends who have reached out to us to offer power, wi-fi, food and showers while ours was out.
Social Media is also amazing at helping you find volunteer opportunities. Simply type in the hashtag for the disaster, and I guarantee you will find leads on where and how to help.
Volunteer Florida also has a great list of organizations that you can partner with to donate goods or time to aid in the recovery process.
I do note the importance of working with an organization. By choosing to come to a disaster area yourself, you may just be in the way and put yourself in harm’s way. Plus, you may come across as a little sketch. Sorry to be so blunt. But, volunteering is great…especially if you have a helpful skill ( like medical or construction background). Just make sure you are with an organization that has proper clearance for safety, and that you are well trained.
Hold the Judgment And Have Patience
Finally, and let me vent here….nothing is more frustrating than hearing ” I told you so” or hearing the same advice over and over from those who are not currently in the situation. Everyone copes with stress and a disaster in their own way. Some people can’t evacuate, while others can and do. Down here in Florida, we know how to cope with hurricanes before they hit, so it was frustrating to have people in other areas of the country talk about what they would do and ask why we can’t all just leave. Don’t make judgments based on the media alone or without full facts. A simple ” hey I am checking in on you, stay safe” will do a world of good for those about to deal with a stressful situation. That’s just a good rule of thumb, in general. And have patience with them afterward, as it sometimes may take a while to communicate.
Sadly, Harvey and Irma are definitely not the first and won’t be the last hurricanes to hit us. There will be more tornadoes and earthquakes to hit the United States and the World. But, seeing people band together can restore everyone’s morale and faith in humanity. If you can do something, even a small something, people can recover and rebuild. Thank you to everyone who has prayed and supported Florida this past week, and Texas shortly before that. Thank you to everyone who helped us this week, and we hope we can be a blessing to others, as well! We are all in this together! #FloridaStrong