How to Help Victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Boats Damagde by Hurricane Harvey

As we speak, the consequences of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which caused a spell of unprecedented rains and flooding in Texas and Florida, are being unfolded. Harvey came ashore at the end of previous month and was the most powerful and devastating hurricane to hit the state in more than 50 years.

Hurricane Irma was just as damaging, with over 60% of the state of Florida without electricity and has resulted in multiple deaths, many due to the unwavering heat.

Estimations of damage

More damage by Hurricane Harvey
Damage from Hurricane Harvey, Texas. US Dept. of Defense Photo
Boats damaged by Hurricane Harvey,Texas
Boats damaged by Hurricane Harvey, Texas. Dept. of Defense photo.

According to current estimations, at least 50 people have been killed. More than one million people have been displaced and over 200,000 houses have been destroyed. The destruction stretches more than 300 miles.

According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the damage done by Hurricane Harvey stands between $150 billion to $180 billion. This cost of damage is more than notorious Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, that caused devastation in New Orleans in 2005 and New York in 2012, respectively.

Importance of Continuing Help to the Hurricane Victims

One example of initial civilian relief efforts were the many truck drivers, especially those who owned monster trucks, who took it on their own to come down to these ravaged areas and drive through the knee-level high waters to help the stranded victims. They became quite a valuable resource, but now, as the waters have seceded, monetary donations and tangible items to private organizations or to the government would be the most helpful.

In Houston, the city most affected by the Hurricane Harvey is now virtually completely dry. Authorities are not in need of private boats and vehicles that can steer through the high waters anymore, but the need to assist the authorities in relief work will be ongoing and it is very difficult for state and federal authorities to do all the recovery work on their own.

Since the resultant damage caused by the hurricanes are so large-scale, the millions of people that have been affected by the calamities of these events of mother nature and will require help and support for many months to come. This is why your contributions can assist in alleviating the sufferings of victims and expediting the ongoing process of recovery and reconstruction.

Many organizations have already come out to provide recovery and rehabilitation tasks, as many people are still in need of food and water and many are still without electricity. Indeed, the recent tragedy at the the Rehabilitation Center nursing home in Hollywood Hills, Florida demonstrates just how dangerous the consequences of a hurricane can be.

Relief Funds You Can Count On

One popular relief organization is the American Red Cross. They are well known for disaster relief and recovery, have an excellent reputation and provide support services to those in need to anyone in the world. They also provide training and certification programs for individuals and businesses.

Donating money to charities is not the only way to help victims. You can also directly help by giving supplies to these people in need. The Salvation Army is well known for their support and assistance to the poor and victims of catastrophic incidents. In addition, the New York Times provides a list of many, if not all of the legitimate charities available to help the victims of the hurricanes, including an excerpt on how to avoid scams.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Over Bermuda
Hurricane Irma Over Bermuda

Hurricane Irma, known as a Cape Verde type hurricane, has caused immense devastation in the state of Florida. The hurricane has already resulted in 11 deaths in the US and has left more than six million in five states without power. In the Florida Keys alone, much of the landfall had winds reaching 130 mph, but it didn’t stop there. The hurricane and its category 4 winds headed up much of Florida’s west coast, bring with it torrential downpours, tornadoes and heavy flooding.

The Military’s Response

This article would not be complete without giving thanks to all branches of our military, which includes the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, who make up a combined force of over 20,000 soldiers that have come to assist all victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Some examples of military assistance involve The Coast Guard, who have set up an an air station in southeastern Houston. The Texas National Guard was activated early on to provide rescue operations and the Marine Corps are supplying units of tracked amphibious vehicles. The Air Force has 1,000 airmen and 30 aircraft providing rescue missions across the coasts of Texas and Florida. Helicopters and an E-8 JSTARS surveillance plane are also participating to gather information about the ongoing conditions on the ground.

The Navy is running relief operations with a swarm of helicopters and a P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane, looking for those standard in their houses or other facilities where they cannot currently leave.

How You Can Help Now

According to the center of International Disaster, right now donating money is most efficient way to help.

However, if you live near damaged localities and want to help in person, you can register on the website of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster instead of self-deploying.

If you want to donate cash, then GlobalGiving’s Irma Relief Fund is a suitable option. It vets the local organizations before funding them and has a good reputation on charity watchdogs.

If you have a particular charity in mind that don’t make the lists mentioned, here are some tips on how to ensure your donations will go to the right place:

How to Donate in the Aftermath of the Hurricanes 

Putting some thought and homework before donating money to relief work of the hurricanes will make you a more informed and aware donor, and it will increase the chances that your donation will be going to the ones who are in desperate need of them.

Do Prerequisite Research Before Making a Donation

You should know more about the group you are going to donate. Read up on their past performance. Try to find if there has been any issue with their management. You can also review charity watchdogs to know about the best options to donate.

You are Entitled to Demand Transparency

Generally, NGOs don’t require making any detailed disclosure of their spending. However, as a donor, you own the right to ask them to go public with the details of their spending. You can also ask the respective elected officials to supervise charities that raise money after natural calamities and disasters.

Groups with Local Roots and Workers are the Best Bet

Groups having significant experience working in areas affected by the disaster are the best options to donate. They use money slightly better than the ones who are not connected with the local population.


Following the above mentioned tips of donating can ensure that your money or supplies are being used in the most appropriate manner. We encourage you to come back frequently to Howard Fensterman Charities to read the latest events and how you can assist when a tragedy occurs, whether man-made or by nature. Currently, we are dealing with helping the millions of victims of these recent hurricanes and Tropical Storm Maria is gaining strength at the writing of this article.

Whenever a catastrophe hits, it is a collective responsibility on our part to do what we can to assist!

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