On Saturday, September 17, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were once again devastated by climate change-altered weather, resulting in yet another hurricane only a few short years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the Caribbean islands in 2017. 80-mph winds; 30 inches of rain; mudslides; entire homes and infrastructure destroyed or washed away; and hundreds of people displaced from their communities that were ravaged by Hurricane Fiona — this is the current reality for the islands off the northern coast of South America; some of which are US territory.
Of all the current horrors just south of North America, most notably, on Thursday, 1.2 million customers were left without power, according to NBC News, and two-thirds of the island have no water service, reports The Red Cross.
As of September 18, President Joe Biden “declared that an emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Fiona,” read the White House official statement.
As federal relief begins to trickle into effect, US- and internationally based organizations have already begun their work. As the storm rages on, organizations such as The Red Cross and Brigada Solidaria del Oeste — or Solidarity Brigade of the West — have already put boots on the ground and funneled funds to those in need.
To support the efforts of American organizations and, crucially, Puerto Rican organizations working symbiotically within impacted communities, Better has compiled a list of trusted groups that are taking donations of monetary value, physical goods or general support for this most recent humanitarian crisis. Read on to find the best ways to send relief from abroad.
The American Red Cross
Well known for its disaster response and immediate aid, The American Red Cross has already deployed resources and personnel to the islands where conditions remain “dire.” They are “working closely with the local government to provide support where needed. Some areas are still inaccessible due to mudslides and damaged roads and bridges, but more than 190 trained Red Cross volunteers are helping assess the damage and delivering emergency supplies to shelters where possible,” read a statement from The Red Cross.
Their previous efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 helped fund and install solar power sources, which today are being used to fuel shelters for more than 1,000 people. To be a part of the solution this time around, The Red Cross is seeking donations that will directly benefit those in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
Visit The Red Cross website; call 800-RED-CROSS; or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation. For your efforts to go specifically to those affected by Hurricane Fiona, “write ’Hurricane Fiona’ in the memo line of a check and mail it with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to your local Red Cross chapter.
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste
The Brigada Solidaria del Oeste is a widely lauded, critical source of immediate support to those in Puerto Rico. The organization banded together after Hurricane Maria when federal assistance was slim, and years later, their concentrated efforts are being called upon again.
BSO has shared which items are welcomed and what is not accepted — for example, water filters but not bottled water. In addition to material support, they are also collecting monetary donations on a rolling basis that “allow BSO to provide other forms of direct aid and support.”
BSO is well-trusted within the community aid sector — learn more about the organization on their website, LinkTree and Instagram. There is no better support than direct support — consider giving today.
Stronger Than Maria
A registered 501(c)(3) that is tirelessly working to improve the lives of those devastated by natural disasters — namely Maria in 2017, Stronger Than Maria continues its important work today.
Food, goods and home repair are just three of the countless needs they fulfill — and do so on a shoestring budget. Donated funds will directly benefit those currently in crisis.
To fund this organization or to offer material items, visit the Stronger than Maria website or scan the QR code on their Instagram.
Located in Puerto Rico, Taller Salud is a feminist, community-based nonprofit that fosters women’s access to healthcare, reduces violence and encourages economic development via a number of programs.
Currently, they are collecting funds and goods, such as toiletries, solar power lanterns, water and much more. Interested donors can find more about their mission and ways to support them by visiting the Taller Salud website.
Noting that the first few days following the storm are the most critical for assistance, the Hispanic Federation — which “advances the Hispanic community, supports Hispanic families, and strengthens Latino institutions” — has begun collecting donations to aid the crisis in the Caribbean. While many organizations have their sights set on Puerto Rico, the Hispanic Federation is actively working to identify organizations in the Dominican Republic that are also in need of assistance.
To support their widespread initiatives, visit the Hispanic Federation website and donation page.
Global Giving: Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund
The Global Giving: Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund is well on its way to a million-dollar target. Accepting donations of all sizes, the relief fund will “deliver food and emergency medical supplies; provide shelter, clean water, and hygiene products; [and] support longer-term recovery efforts led by local organizations,” according to the Global Giving website.
The donation fund, more information and updates can be found on the Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund page.
For additional ways to give and for updates on the ever-evolving crisis, visit NPR, Brigada Solidaria del Oeste and The American Red Cross.
To ensure the legitimacy and transparency of all organizations receiving funds — especially in times of crisis — visit the Charity Navigator website where statistics, real-life reviews and organization accountability is available for a plethora of philanthropic groups.
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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.