While Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria may seem like far in the past for those of us comfortable at Emory, a few weeks really represents such a small chunk of time in the hurricane recovery process. Entire communities, towns, local areas, homes and life possessions were completely destroyed. If it hasn't happened to you, it's sometimes challenging to truly imagine this happening in your town, or let alone to your own family, but it is far too much of a reality for many in our world right now. If you don’t know at least one person affected or someone that knows someone affected by these recent weather tragedies, it may feel a little hard to know the best way to help out. Even if you are not directly linked to these disasters, there are many ways to lend a helping hand to those in need and also to your own community.
While thousands are suffering, it can seem like a charitable idea to donate money to a cause that is helping victims of the hurricanes. National organizations like the American Red Cross, Americares, All Hands Volunteer, Brothers Brother Foundation and SBP are organizations that are all conducting relief efforts to which you can donate. Additionally, local organizations are in great need of funds for relief efforts including the Houston Food Bank, Volunteer Florida, Florida All Faiths Food Bank and the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
If you don’t have the resources to donate as much as you’d like to help the relief effort, but you still want to make an impact, don't fret! Try volunteering at a local food bank or community organization that is conducting relief efforts. Helping organize food, contributions or even shipments can ensure a smooth process of delivery, product placement and ultimately go a long way. Even something as simple as organizing a book drive, can make all the difference; students will be entering schools with no books, supplies or functioning classrooms. A simple activity of making welcome posters and banners to be sent to schools will make suffering children that much happier.
3. Raise Awareness about Climate Change
As we all know, climate change is a growing universal concern and is also a cause of the strong impacts of these recent storms. Regardless of our residence location, it is essential our communities stay informed about this pressing issue and find ways to discuss making positive impacts in our environments. Simple activities can help reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. Try and be cautious of wasting electricity, keeping up with recycling and reducing your use of gas! You could also try and encourage sustainable activities within your community or neighborhood, and even at your university.
4. Stay Up to Date With the News
All of that being said, it is important to keep up with the news and current events to understand changes that are occurring in the areas that were affected by these storms. Staying on top of the news can not only provide you with a greater understanding of how to further help out, but also help you raise awareness about the impacts of these disasters to others in your community.
Remember, nothing ends after the storm surge; it ultimately all begins once the actual storm is over. A post hurricane relief effort is ongoing and we can all contribute in a unique way. Additionally, any effort can go a long way; no effort is too small, too minimal or unimportant. Be the bigger person and make an impact in any way that you can. For all you know, the next big storm could be headed your way.