Hurricane Michael: How to Help


The Florida Panhandle is reeling from the impact of Hurricane Michael which left many without homes and jobs. And I know a lot of folks are going to want to help out and you totally can. But sometimes people’s eagerness to give can lead them to doing stuff that isn’t necessarily helpful. So, and I’ve said this before, the best thing you can do for the victims of the storm is to just send them money. And I’ve heard protests to this. “Well, surely they need basic things like soaps and socks. So what if my church just collects that stuff?” But by time your donations actually make it to the victim they’ve got their soap and socks situation figured out because they drove to an unaffected area and bought soap and socks with the money people donated. They need to figure out their homeless and jobless situation. I’m not joking. After major hurricanes it’s very common to see shoulder-high mounds of old donated clothes out on the curb in front of churches waiting to be picked up alongside hurricane debris. And I know people say “What’s the harm? If they use it I helped and if not, no problem.” But it is a problem because people have to cart it down there and someone has to sort through your weird pile of donations to hope they can find something they actually need. And that same person could just be buying stuff they know they need with money. Just go google the phrase “the second disaster.” It’s the term relief workers use describe the influx of weird donations from well-intentioned people that end up being more of a hindrance than a help. So unless you see a group in the area call for specific items and just send them money. For example, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society is calling for donations of specific pet supplies to deal with the influx of refugees animals. So go nuts with the dog and cat donations. But otherwise just send money. Now as to who to send money to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are usually on the front lines of disasters like these. And while I haven’t personally interacted with them, I’ve heard good things about Samaritan’s Purse. There’s also the Florida Disaster Fund. All of these groups are accepting donations that can make a real difference on the ground in the immediate aftermath of storm. And outside of donations, if you live near the affected area, you may see evacuees in your town. If you do, cut them whatever slack you can. A lot of these folks really weren’t planning an out-of-town trip in the middle of October and some of them straight up can’t afford to be doing it. So if you spot them in a restaurant and you can cover their meal, do it. If they’re staying in a hotel you work at, see what you can do about cutting them a deal. They don’t know what their returning home to or if they have a home to return to. You can say a lot of bad things about the South, but that southern hospitality thing is real. It’s time to let that shine. I’m Jonathan Sobolewski for Reckon.

2 thoughts on “Hurricane Michael: How to Help

  1. But sometimes people buy things that you would not approve of, and when you send cash the organizations that take the cash consume sometimes 80-90% of the money in administration costs before any of the money reaches the people. I would never send cash unless it was directly to someone I personally knew . I would not trustingly hand over cash to an organization believing they would distribute the money as I wanted and expected. I think giving food, water, sanitary supplies and clothes is better because these are immediate daily living needs that they would have to use the cash for anyway.

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