On Thursday, Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm before continuing its path of devastation through Louisiana. The hurricane, which had winds up to 150 mph at its strongest point, was one of the strongest storms in U.S. history and left at least six people dead and almost one million without power. If you want to make a difference and donate, here's how to help Hurricane Laura victims, many of whom are already struggling due to the ongoing pandemic.
Communities in Southeast Texas and Southern Louisiana, which were already under strain from Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, were once again hit hard when the storm came to land on Thursday. While Hurricane Laura later weakened to a tropical depression, strong winds destroyed homes and businesses and left almost one million people without power in areas that have high rates of poverty and are struggling amidst the ramifications of the coronavirus. In Lake Charles, thousands of homes were without water service.
State officials ordered 1.5 million residents in Texas and Louisiana to evacuate before Laura, which is the fourth Category 4 storm to strike Louisiana in modern history, made landfall. However, considering the higher-than-average rates of poverty in many of the affected areas, many residents could not afford to leave their homes to seek shelter. In addition, many existing shelters were already at capacity before the storm hit due to the pandemic, according to CNBC.
While the damage is still being assessed, these hard-hit communities need medical supplies, shelter, food, water, and other basic necessities as soon as possible. Considering some organizations like the American Red Cross currently only accept monetary donations in light of the pandemic, you might want to consider donating money to make sure your gift goes towards the communities' immediate needs and can be distributed as efficiently as possible as different situations arise.
Before making a donation, you also might want to consider checking the Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Great Nonprofits, or Guidestar to do some research to make sure that the organization that you're choosing to give to is an accredited one that's graded well on its financials and efficiency. By checking beforehand, you'll have a better idea of where your money will be going. If your organization is a smaller community-based one that's popped up as a result of Hurricane Laura, you'll want to check their website for more details of how they'll be spending your donation. If you're looking to get started, here are seven local and national organizations to donate to.
The Salvation Army
One benefit of donating to a larger organization is that it likely already has boots on the ground and has more experience quickly dolling out aid following a disaster, according to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. You can head to the Salvation Army's website to send food and other supplies to aid one of the feeding stations the charity has set up across Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas.
The Red Cross
While the Red Cross is not currently accepting donations of food, clothing, or other supplies due to the ongoing pandemic and risk of contamination, you can send a monetary donation on its website or donate $10 to those in need by texting LAURA to 90999.
The nonprofit, which previously provided medical aid after Hurricanes Barry, Michael, and Harvey, specializes in helping out communities before and after the devastating effects of a hurricane. As of Aug. 26, the charity has already forged relationships with a number of healthcare facilities in these communities to make sure they can get medical attention to those who need it as quickly as possible. On the donation page, you can specify if you want your money to go towards Hurricane Laura.
All Hands and Hearts
Considering these communities have been besieged by a number of hurricanes over the past few years, you might want to consider donating to All Hands and Hearts. The nonprofit, which specializes both in immediate aid and longterm help for communities that have survived a natural disaster, provided essential supplies in addition to helping Texas homeowners make repairs on their houses following Hurricane Harvey. In light of the extreme devastation of Hurricane Laura on homes and businesses, you can choose between supplying PPE, hiring a team to muck and clean a home, or buying a new generator for a home without power. You can also volunteer if you're in the area.
The Mill Creek Volunteer Fire Department
If you happen to live near one of the impacted communities, you can also donate essential supplies to a local group for immediate dispersion. One example is Louisiana's Mill Creek Volunteer Fire Department, which announced they will be accepting "canned goods, personal hygiene items, tarps, water, and cleaning supplies," according to a local news station.
The Cajun Navy
This nonprofit, which is led and managed by regular citizens, is working to get essential supplies like cleaning materials, masks, gloves, disinfectant, rubber boots, and bleach to those who need them most. You can also donate money towards the purchase of critical items on their website or request a rescue.
Since Hurricane Laura is devastating communities already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, you might want to consider donating to Americares' dedicated relief fund, which is working to supply medical supplies, medicine, and personal protective equipment to those impacted by the disaster.
These are just a few of the many reputable charities helping out Hurricane Laura victims, so take some time to do some research before making your donation, and remember, every little bit helps.