How You Can Help the Victims of Hurricane Irma
Now is the time to open our hearts and lend a hand to our friends in Florida
As Texans are still picking up the pieces left from Hurricane Harvey just two weeks ago, now our Florida neighbors are looking towards the long road to recovery they are facing after one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record ravaged throughout the entire state over three very long days. Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. as massive, category 5 storm and completely destroyed homes all across Florida, from top to bottom, coast to coast.
From the demolished homes and businesses in the Keys to the unexpected flooding in Jacksonville, this storm was deadly, fierce, unpredictable and unforgiving.
Floridians will be rebuilding for years to come and now that the storm has finally let go of it's grasp on the Sunshine State and that glorious sun is shining once more, it's time for the work to begin. Below is a list of several organizations that have already hit the ground in Florida and rolled up their sleeves. Southern Living has vetted these groups and you can trust that when you contribute to their efforts, your money will go to help those in need.
The American Red Cross As with most natural disasters, The Red Cross is typically the first relief organization on the scene providing food, shelter and necessary supplies to storm evacuees. This storm was no exception. Before Irma even made landfall on U.S. soil, The Red Cross mobilized and established just shy of 600 shelters all over the state of Florida. As the storm moved north, so too did the efforts of the Red Cross. They provided evacuation centers for people in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. You can donate directly to their efforts by texting "IRMA" to 9099 to make a $10 donation. There is also a need for blood donation. Due to the storm, many scheduled blood drives were cancelled across several states. If you are healthy and eligible, please considering helping in that way.
Team Rubicon is an incredible organization that serves a double purpose. Mostly comprised of combat veterans, it offers a way for those veterans to continue the fulfill the sense of duty, the need to serve that fuels the brave men and women of the U.S. military even after they're military duties are complete. This group has a unique perspective to bring to recovery and relief efforts in natural disasters. A combat background provides these folks with a valuable skill set to help their fellow Americans when Mother Nature strikes. They were in Houston right after Harvey and they are in Florida now. They will be clearing debris and helping those who've lost everything. You can help their efforts by donating here.
As the tragic and frightening scene of rapidly rising flood waters in Houston played out live on our television screens, we all saw the real life heroes arrive by boat, straight from Cajun Country. That's right, the group of good Samaritans and their boats, known as the Cajun Navy, showed up in Houston just in the knick of time for so many stranded in their homes. Now they are headed to Florida to help in the aftermath of Irma. These brave folks are out there on their own boats, using their own money to pay for the gas to get them there, all for the sake of saving the lives of strangers. You can help them continue to their efforts by donating here.
A group of BBQ pit masters may not be your first idea of relief aid. But these guys have been showing up to fill the bellies of first responders and offer a little comfort to people who really need it, disaster after disaster since the Joplin Tornado hit in May of 2011. Stan Hays and his crew have been tirelessly serving hot, hearty meals to police officers, first responders and filling large orders for shelters since Harvey hit Houston two weeks ago. They have now mobilized a team and they too are headed to Florida. Hays told Southern Living that a team is en route and will set up in southwest Florida as soon as they are able to get through the traffic. The cleanup and recovery efforts will be long, grueling work and for the men and women who roll their sleeves up to help, Operation BBQ Relief will be there with a plate full of compassion—and ribs. This group has served over 40 communities in 22 states and they can continue to do so, with your help.
United Way responds to disaster by giving those affected assistance in recovering and rebuilding after natural disasters like Irma. They have a chapter based in Miami so they are already on the ground helping those in need. If you are able, you can volunteer in the cleanup efforts or you can simply aid by donating.
WATCH: Ernest Hemingway's Famous Six-Toed Cats Come Out of Hurricane Irma Without a Scratch
Samaritan's Purse currently has two teams on the ground in Florida to assist homeowners in the hard-hit communities of Naples and Ft. Meyers. "My prayers are with the many who have seen their homes and businesses devastated by Irma's wind and water. They will now be facing an overwhelming clean-up," said Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham in a statement. In addition to helping those in Florida, Samaritan's Purse is sending blankets, hygiene kits, water purification systems and other supplies to the devastated islands in the Caribbean. Assist their efforts by donating here.