Food

You want to return or donate your unused hurricane supplies. Not so fast, says the county.

Miami-Dade County announces locations accepting donations for the Bahamas

Miami-Dade County announced on Sept. 3, 2019, four locations accepting donations for the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian makes its way north.
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Miami-Dade County announced on Sept. 3, 2019, four locations accepting donations for the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian makes its way north.

You spent the weekend wrangling the last of the bottled water from other fellow shoppers. Should you now donate it after the hurricane threat has passed?

No, says Miami-Dade County’s director of emergency management.

Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and the threat has moved up the Florida coast, but the best plan for your supplies is to keep them stored where they are.

“We’re in the middle of hurricane season,” said Frank Rollason, Miami-Dade County’s head of emergency management. “When the next storm comes, you might have to be back out there, buying those supplies all over again.”

Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, and South Florida is in the heart of the busiest hurricane months, he said. Another major storm easily could threaten South Florida before the season is over — and residents will want to have those supplies handy.

Grocery stores like Publix often accept returns on perishable items like bread, fruit, cookies and muffins. But those items won’t be returned to shelves. That perfectly good food would have to be thrown away, a Publix spokesperson said.

“Hurricane season is still active through November. In the spirit of having a culture of preparedness, it is always a good idea to have an ample supply of shelf-stable items on-hand,” Publix spokesperson Nicole Maristany Krauss said. “However, if a customer elects to return items they’ve purchased, we would discard perishable items. We cannot ensure that the cold-chain has been maintained and we cannot risk time and temperature abuse.”

Miami-Dade County recommends residents have enough provisions on hand for at least 72 hours, when federal and state first responders will have the toughest time bringing in relief aid, food and water. The state emergency management recommends keeping seven days’ worth.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and other city officials speak at a press conference to inform the public regarding the City of Miami's efforts to support the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian, in Miami, Florida on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

And the best source for water isn’t buying bottled water but simply storing Miami-Dade County tap water in reusable containers.

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The devastating images from the Bahamas have some wondering whether they should donate their supplies to relief organizations. Rollason said the best plan is to donate money to reputable organizations that can purchase exactly what is needed for the crisis.

“We all want to help, but realistically donating your three days’ worth of bottled water isn’t going to make much of a difference,” he said. “Cash to a reputable organization is a great way to donate so they can buy exactly what they need, be it food or chainsaws or what have you.”

One way to donate is through the United Way of Miami-Dade. The organization and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald have partnered to activate Operation Helping Hands, an effort to support response, relief and recovery efforts in the region affected by Hurricane Dorian.

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