As the most hurricane-prone state in the nation, Florida is no stranger to recovering from the effects of a hurricane or tropical storm. Now we see the same damage and unthinkable devastation Hurricane Sandy has brought to our neighbors in the Northeast. All across the country, Americans are opening their hearts to help through cash donations, goods and helping hands, as America rebuilds.
After a disaster, cash is critical, versatile and immediate. Through cash donations, those affected can receive the aid they need, when they need it. Basic needs have to be met — food, water, shelter. Depending on the disaster, relief organizations might have a need for specific products. By sending cash, you can ensure your donation will be effectively utilized to rebuild and recover.
Cash also helps the local economy in recovery. When relief organizations are able to purchase needed goods in impacted areas, they support local businesses. This stimulates the local economy and puts people back to work, which is critical to economic recovery.
Cash is now easier to donate than ever before. AT&T and Verizon customers can text to donate $10 to the American Red Cross (text REDCROSS to 90999), Salvation Army (text STORM to 80888) or American Humane Society (text HUMANE to 80888). The donations are simply added to a customer’s phone bill. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) has a complete list of established relief organizations, which can be broken down by state at http://www.nvoad.org/donate.
Instead of sending goods, consider hosting an event to raise funds, and make a cash contribution. This enables you to organize and be a tremendous help but avoids the cost of shipping and distributing goods that ultimately might not be needed.
After a storm, it takes a host of experience and manpower to rebuild. However, it is important that potential volunteers confirm that they are needed before traveling to impacted areas. There will be a need for volunteers to help survivors recover and rebuild for months to come; however, these areas can be very dangerous for volunteers who haven’t been trained in response. Potential volunteers can visit http://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly for information on voluntary organizations. Connecting with these organizations allows relief efforts to be managed effectively, providing the best help to those communities in need.
In Sandy’s aftermath, we see Americans picking themselves up and beginning the process of putting lives back together. Whether you choose to help through donating cash or your time and talent, know that you are helping to keep America strong.
Bryan W. Koon, director, Division of Emergency Management
Chester Spellman, chief executive officer, Volunteer Florida