Hurricane Ian aftermath, in Punta Gorda, Florida

How to help victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States made landfall Sept. 28 in Florida, where a catastrophic storm surge inundated communities along the Gulf Coast, destroying homes and businesses.

Since then, Hurricane Ian has become known as the second deadliest storm to hit the U.S. mainland in the 21st century, as the death toll rose to at least 118 in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Ian initially barreled through Cuba and knocked out its power grid before rapidly picking up strength. When the storm reached Florida, its 150 mph winds fell just short of Category 5 status.

MAP: Tracking the path of Hurricane Ian

President Joe Biden preemptively authorized an emergency declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, several days in advance of Ian’s arrival.

More than a week after Ian made landfall in Florida, search and rescue efforts are still ongoing and many residents are struggling amid the recovery, with housing, electricity and food in short supply in many places.

Here are some of the organizations mobilizing on the ground, and how you can help

  • Hundreds of trained American Red Cross volunteers arrived in Florida from out of state ahead of the storm and are seeking donations for their ongoing efforts.
  • Donations to Direct Relief support the purchase of medications, equipment and supplies that address chronic gaps in health care — made all the more critical after Ian — helping those who are advanced in age, suffer from chronic conditions, or require electric power for life support equipment and are at heightened risk during natural disasters.
  • Americares, which provides surge medical support in areas affected by disaster or conflict, is asking for donations, some of which will go to funding their network of partner clinics and centers in Florida.
  • The International Medical Corps is asking for donations after deploying a mobile medical unit in Port Charlotte, providing outpatient services to more than 100 people daily, at the request of the state’s Department of Health.
  • Project HOPE, an international humanitarian nonprofit, is raising funds to support their statewide emergency response, which includes delivering medical supplies, PPE and disaster hygiene kits.
  • Feeding South Florida, a food bank in the Feeding America national nonprofit network, is asking for donations to alleviate hunger for residents in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
  • Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based faith-driven nonprofit founded after Hurricane Katrina, is preparing as many as 30,000 meals each day in Fort Myers and seeking financial support to keep feeding the rest of southwest Florida.
  • Heart of Florida United Way, an Orlando-based organization funding critical health and human services programs for central Florida, has opened a hurricane recovery fund and is accepting contributions now.

How to avoid charity scams

  • Determine whether the organization, nonprofit or group has a proven track record of delivering aid to those in need.
  • Identify local initiatives and efforts that are based within the areas most affected by the natural disaster.
  • Beware of phone calls and emails soliciting donations.
  • Avoid unfamiliar agencies and websites. There is a history of scammers creating websites that look like donation pages after a major tragedy, but in reality were scams.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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