After hitting the U.S. Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Maria plowed through Puerto Rico, flooding streets, collapsing homes and leaving the entire territory without power Wednesday.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosseló called Hurricane Maria the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history.”
The dangerous hurricane is responsible for at least 15 deaths on the Caribbean island of Dominica alone, and, according to the National Hurricane Center, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are expected to see a “life-threatening” storm surge of 9 to 12 feet between Thursday and early next week.
How you can help the victims of Hurricane Maria
Make monetary donations
According to the United States Agency for International Development, giving money to reputable relief agencies and nonprofits is the most effective way to help and to avoid using resources to transport or deliver donated goods.
Here are some organizations to consider giving money to:
- UNICEF (emergency relief and help for children affected)
- Save the Children (emergency relief and help for children affected)
- ConPRmetidos (Puerto Rico-based nonprofit to benefit “immediate needs of food, shelter, water” and more)
- GlobalGiving Caribbean Hurricane Maria & Irma Relief Fund (from US-based nonprofit, Global Giving)
- SPCA International (help for animal rescue and care)
Other crowdfunding campaigns:
- 21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund (NBA star Tim Duncan hoping to raise $5 million for his home country)
- Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund (bringing relief to Dominica)
- Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Hurricane Relief Fund (to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes)
Check if your employer will match your donation
Doublethedonation.com has a nifty tool that lets you enter your company name to find out whether or not your employer offers a matching gift program for donations.
The American Red Cross urges volunteer blood donors to give blood year-round, not only at the time of disaster. Currently, platelets and type O blood donations are especially needed, according to the organization website.
Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to begin the donation process.
Monetary donations are preferred for most aid organizations, but refer to your local nonprofits to see if there is an additional need for goods donations.
If you’re in the Florida area, the Miami Herald has listed several donation spots for locals to bring non-perishable food, diapers, bottled water and clothing starting Friday.
The American Red Cross is looking to dispatch volunteers in the next few weeks to aid areas affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
Local residents in affected areas should use this form.
All non-local residents interested in volunteering should use this separate form.
More information about volunteer expectations and requirements is at redcross.org.