As I write this month’s column, Hurricane Irma has barreled her way through the Caribbean and is making landfall in southwestern Florida. The good news is that with today’s technology and advances in weather prediction, there will be less loss of life and less injuries to those in the storm’s path than in the past. The bad news is that the material destruction to homes, business, communities and, thus, families will be devastating.
The Weather Channel and numerous other weather outlets indicate Irma is the largest hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic with the potential to cause the most damage ever, for a weather-related reason, in the continental United States. And this storm comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey which caused major problems for Texas, Louisiana and other gulf states. The differences between the two storms has been a much talked about topic of cable news shows as Hurricane Harvey was large, slow moving and dumped exorbitant amounts of water on low-lying areas while Irma will certainly bring way too much water to Florida but the real damage will more likely come from the high winds rather than from the rain.
While storms like Irma and Harvey don’t discriminate in the destruction they cause, those most severely impacted will generally be individuals and families which can least afford the costs associated with rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their lives. The potential for many is the loss of everything they own—everything they couldn’t take with them when they evacuated. Thus, the storm’s impact—the storm’s devastation—may be more serious, not just in the days between the writing of this column and its publication, but in the weeks, months and even years to come. It is hard to imagine losing everything and having to start over. And while the federal government will provide some initial, but limited, support to individuals and families, the long-term needs will be more daunting to address.
So, how can you help? You certainly can give to organizations which are providing immediate, on-the-ground assistance, such as the American Red Cross. However, be careful to insure your contributions are going to well-known, established organizations, as daily we hear about unscrupulous individuals who are taking advantage of the generosity of others during these difficult times.
For the long haul, I encourage you to attach the same considerations as above to organizations to which you might wish to contribute. One of the best and safest ways to insure your donations are going to where they are most needed, is to give to/through local community foundations with specific instructions that your contribution is restricted to hurricane relief. Community foundations have been in existence for over 100 years and have, during that time, provided trusted services to the communities they support. There are twenty-eight community foundations in Florida, all of which I’m sure will be heavily involved in assisting others in their communities as the rebuilding process begins. We, at ACT for Alexandria, can also be of assistance. If you wish to donate to hurricane relief in either Florida or Texas, 100% of your donation to ACT for this purpose, will be directed to the various community foundations serving the most heavily impacted areas. You can even designate the area of the state you wish your contribution to be sent. Last week, after Hurricane Harvey, many sent money to the Greater Houston Community Foundation through ACT to assist those in need.
For further information, you can go to: http://communityfoundationsfl.org/ for a listing of the twenty-eight community foundations in Florida; to The Miami Foundation (http://miamifoundation.org/relief/) to support efforts locally and throughout the Caribbean; or to www.actforalexandria.org to donate through ACT. You can also send a check to us at 201 King Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, 22314. Again, 100% of your donation will go to help those impacted by these devastating hurricanes.
By John Porter, ACT President & CEO
Special thanks to the Alexandria Times for publishing John's monthly column.