Just three short weeks ago here in Atlanta, we were all bracing ourselves for a hurricane. A hurricane! All the way up here…in the northern part of Georgia!
If you remember that week, there was a sense of panic in the air. People were filling their tanks with gas and buying up all of the bread and water. Schools were closed and all eyes were on TV, social media, and weather apps, trying to find out just how much devastation Irma would cause in our community. We were all holding our breath together. Watching and waiting.
Today, for most of us, things are back to “normal.” The power has been restored. The wi-fi is working. Schools and businesses are all open and the grocery stores are fully stocked. We have moved on. And because the damage here was so minimal and the whole “ordeal” was limited to a couple of days, we can consider ourselves REALLY lucky.
HOWEVER….We can’t let our own good fortune blind us from the fact that there is still a LOT of work to be done for those who were not quite so lucky.
Sadly, the news coverage about Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose’ and Maria has all but faded away, which means that our own awareness of the aftermath has probably dwindled out as well. It’s human nature, after all.
But Hurricane survivors in places like Texas, South Florida and Puerto Rico are counting on the rest of us to STAY AWARE, despite the lack of coverage. And more importantly, they need us to continue to send help. Things are FAR from “normal” for them and will likely not return to anything even remotely close to “normal” for a very long time!
In Houston, some 20,000 people are STILL living in shelters or hotels, unable to return to their homes due to the catastrophic flooding that Harvey brought to their community. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and the water damage is so great that dangerous mold is now a real concern for those trying to clean out the mess and rebuild their lives. (Photos below taken by Amy Pearce of Send Relief during recent trip to Houston)
In Monroe County, Florida, FEMA trailers for temporary housing are just now arriving. Thousands of residents are in need of shelter there and the county’s main industry, tourism, is losing millions of dollars every day, causing an economic crisis in the area.
In Collier County, Florida, where 15-foot storm surges caused flooding and high winds took out power lines and trees, thousands of residents are also without a place to call home. In the small fishing community of Everglades City, officials estimate that 540 of the 640 buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. (photo below from local Fox News affiliate in Collier County)
And in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, 3.4 million residents are facing the grim reality that power may not be restored for weeks….maybe even months. Without electricity, there is a lack of clean drinking water. Not only that, but pumps cannot operate to bring water into buildings for bathing or to flush toilets. Can you even imagine living in a place where 3.4 million people cannot get a drink of water or flush a toilet?
Obviously, the people living in the areas that were hardest hit by these unusually devastating back-to-back storms are in need of help. And they are going to need help for a LONG time…with a LOT of different things.
So… we have pulled together a list of five lesser-known relief organizations that are currently providing aid to people in need and will continue to offer assistance to affected areas for the long road ahead.
It is our hope that our followers will take a moment to review the list and share it with anyone and everyone who is looking for a way to help.
Of course, larger relief organizations like The Red Cross and Unicef are still doing amazing work as well. We simply wanted to provide some other alternatives. No matter where and how you choose to help, it will be much appreciated. Just remember, the important thing is to help now and keep checking in the months ahead to see where there may still be a need.
Ongoing awareness is going to be critical in getting these people back to “normal.”
Send Relief, an arm of the North American Mission Board is based in Alpharetta, GA. Their organization is continuing to send volunteers and supplies to aid in the restoration of areas hardest hit by the hurricanes. You can watch videos about their work and learn more about how to help here.
MAP International provides health and hygiene supplies and medicine to those in need. Their global distribution center is based in nearby Brunswick, GA. You can learn more by visiting their website here.
Americares is an organization that supplies medicines needed for acute and chronic conditions. Things like asthma medication, tetanus vaccines and insulin are provided for those who no longer have access to these live-saving drugs. You can learn more on their website here.
Samaritans Purse helps supply things like generators, water purification systems, heavy-duty shelter plastic and other much-needed items and assistance. You can visit their website here.
The National Diaper Bank Network helps connect community based diaper banks across the country that collect, store and distribute free diapers to families in need. You can learn more about how to help them by visiting their website here.
Again, the point is to help. No matter how you choose to help, it is just important to actually do something…anything. And it is absolutely critical that we all keep up the awareness so that help is provided not just while the story is “hot” or helping is “trendy”, but for the long haul….at least until we can feel confident that the victims are well on their way back to “normal.”