After waiting for hours in long lines, people collect sandbags at Kissimmee, in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Photo by Gregg Newton and Reuters
Across the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma has flattened buildings, flooded coastlines and torn off roofs, devastating nearly all of the structures on the tiny islands of Barbuda and St. Martin. It has left scores of people homeless and caused at least 21 confirmed deaths. As these islands brace for the approaching Hurricane Jose, now a Category 4 storm with 150-mph winds, Irma remains a dangerous threat to Southern Florida and the southeast Atlantic coast, where mass evacuations are taking place.
As the hurricane moves over open water toward the U.S., and Florida Gov. Rick Scott urges those in evacuation zones to “get out now.” Most relief efforts need cash donations, here’s how you can help:
How to take action
The American Red Cross is training volunteers to deploy to Florida for on-the-ground support of the communities in Irma’s wake.
Many people will find themselves suddenly homeless. To help, sign up on Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry or make a donation help to rebuild homes after Irma passes.
Airbnb is looking for property owners to offer free accommodations to families displaced by Hurricane Irma.
National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster is preparing for the aftermath of Irma by organizing volunteers now. Register online.
If you live in Florida and want to help, Volunteer Florida is looking for people to work at shelters. You can register online, or search their list of other ways to help locally.
NOVAD is an association of organizations that help mitigate the impact of disasters. Register here to volunteer with NOVAD in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
A person stands next to a damaged house as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, in Nagua. Photo by Ricardo Rojas and Reuters
Where to donate blood
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, where blood supplies were dangerously low, officials anticipate a similar crisis in Florida. Find an American Red Cross blood bank near you to donate blood, or visit LifeSouth if you live in Florida.
Where to donate cash
Catholic Charities USA, Salvation Army, and American Red Cross are a few of the charities providing on-the-ground assistance to Hurricane Irma communities.
UNICEF is shipping emergency supplies such as water, food, and medicine from their warehouse in Copenhagen.
Thousands of pets are expected to be displaced by Hurricane Irma. You can support lifesaving efforts for displaced animals by donating to the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Fund.
Convoy of Hope is sending food and emergency supplies and help to the victims of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Haiti, and Cuba.
GoFundMe has consolidated all Hurricane Irma related campaigns here.
Charity Navigator has compiled a list of highly rated organizations who are responding to Irma.
Florida’s hunger relief organization, Feeding Florida, works with foodbanks across the state to feed those in need.
OXFAM is working with partners in the Caribbean to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to those affected by Irma.
Americacares has already sent emergency response teams to the Caribbean islands and is preparing to assist Florida.
Save the Children sets up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in shelters. Children can play, read, and be cared for while their parents deal with the stress of natural disasters. They are readying teams to send to Florida and the islands impacted by Irma.