This past September marked a devastating hurricane season. As the summer was coming to an end, Hurricane Harvey became the first serious hurricane to hit the U.S. since Wilma in 2005. It dumped about 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. Harvey’s four days of terror caused terrible damage in several cities in Texas and left thousands of people without electricity and homes. According to ongoing estimates by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at least 150,000 properties in Texas have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.
A few days after Harvey, Hurricane Irma tore through South Florida as a Category 4 storm and destroyed the Caribbean. Shortly after, Hurricane Jose formed, passing the Caribbean Islands until Hurricane Maria unexpectedly formed and destroyed Puerto Rico, causing more damage as it attacked the island with strong winds and over two feet of rain for 24 hours.
In the wake of these storms, people around the nation rushed to help – contributing resources and money to help aid those affected. Many organizations advertise their part in the relief and ask for donations but it’s important for Americans to be aware of where their resources are going and make sure they’re reaching the devastation directly. A common organization that people immediately assume to donate to and is an expert on promotion is the American Red Cross. According to an editorial in The New York Times, Americans started giving to “smaller, local charities with a track record in Texas” after years of media reports documenting the Red Cross’s failure to account for how it spent their money.
ProPublica and NPR reported in 2014 that Red Cross supervisors would order trucks to drive around empty for the sake of appearing to help during Hurricane Isaac. Despite the Red Cross’ enormous size and revenues ($2.7 billion in 2015), the vast amount of money it collects from Americans and its budget that comes from government agencies may result in less accountability than Americans might expect.
If you want your money to make a direct difference, it’s recommended that you donate to local organizations.
Here are some that I found:
- Unidos Por Puerto Rico provides aid to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico
- Check for local businesses that are acting as drop-off locations for donated items (Some of our local organizations are PACO and Street Fame Barbershop in Jersey City or firehouses and community drives)
- ConPRmetidos is still raising money for hurricane relief (Focusing primarily on immediate needs like shelter, food, and water)
- Puerto Ricans in Action is raising money through GoFundMe to be used toward helping victims of the recent hurricanes
Be sure to donate to local, national, and global charities that will make use of your money and help out those in need.
Overall, don’t forget to ask questions and do research!