Helping Victims of Hurricane Irma

(Wreckage from Hurricane Irma in Florida.)


Q & A: How can I help victims of Hurricane Irma?

A: When Irma blew through the Southeast, causing major destruction in parts of Florida and the Caribbean, much of the country was still focusing on the flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Irma wasn’t as devastating to Florida as some had predicted, but it claimed thousands of victims there nonetheless, and it ravaged many parts of the Caribbean. All those areas will need financial assistance for months to come. Here’s how you can help:

A good first step is check out the lists of charities at Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s that focus on Hurricane Irma relief and meet the charity watchdogs’ standards.

Some of the worst devastation took place in the Caribbean, and many international giving organizations are targeting their efforts there. USAID, the government agency that focuses on foreign aid, has a list of organizations that are assisting Hurricane Irma victims internationally. These include Unicef and the Global Giving Foundation, whose Hurricane Irma Relief Fund will work with local nonprofits to provide emergency supplies and help with long-term recovery and rebuilding.

Local organizations in Florida are also leading Irma relief efforts. The United Way of Miami-Dade County’s Operation Helping Hands has teamed up with the Miami Herald to raise money for local nonprofits working on disaster relief. You can also go to the site to sign up as a disaster volunteer.

Besides asking for donations, the Red Cross is looking for people to volunteer at shelters to load and unload trucks, serve food, provide comfort, and set up facilities. See the Red Cross Hurricane Irma volunteer application for more information.

Community foundations throughout Florida are establishing funds for Irma victims. See the Community Foundation Locator’s list of Florida foundations. For example, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys created the My Key West Emergency Relief Fund, which will distribute donations to nonprofits throughout the Keys to help with recovery. (This fund distributed $1.3 million to Keys nonprofits for disaster relief after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.) The Miami Foundation has several funds, including a Hurricane Relief Fund, an Irma Caribbean Strong Relief Fund and the Irma Community Recovery Fund. The foundation also has a list of other organizations leading Hurricane Irma relief efforts in Miami-Dade County, the Florida Keys and southwest Florida. See the Council on Foundations’ Hurricane Irma page for more programs.

For more information on how to make the most of charitable tax breaks, protect yourself from scams and help victims of Hurricane Harvey, see Donating to Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts.