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It’s been less than a week since Hurricane Irma carved its path through the Caribbean and Florida, and communities are still struggling to recover. Forming before the murky water engulfing cities and towns hit by Hurricane Harvey had the chance to drain, Hurricane Irma, though in some ways less damaging than many had feared, caused a vast amount of destruction. Whole islands in the Caribbean are all but destroyed. In the Florida Keys, it seems as if only Hemingway’s cats have emerged from the hurricane unscathed. Over 400 miles up the coast, roads and parking lots in Jacksonville were transformed into a network of rivers and lakes.
Long after the national media move on, communities in the Caribbean and Florida will be doing the hard work of rebuilding. Here’s how you can help.
Donate to Organizations on the Ground
Barbuda was one of the first islands to face Irma, and the hurricane rendered it nearly uninhabitable. According to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, upward of 95 percent of the island’s buildings have been impacted and the hurricane has inflicted roughly $200 million of damage on the small island country. To help the residents of Barbuda rebuild their island, you can donate to the Barbuda Relief Fund, which was created by the American University of Antigua.
Irma did not hit Puerto Rico dead-on, but the hurricane tore the territory’s coastal town of Loíza to shreds and powerful winds pushed the island’s already outdated and underfunded utility company to its breaking point. Largely because of austerity measures and a debt crisis sparked, at least in part, by the United States’ colonial control over the territory, Puerto Rico is in a particularly weak position to respond to this crisis. A Puerto Rican nonprofit called Iniciativa Comunitaria is currently gathering funds for the roughly 80 families in Loíza who have lost their homes. Iniciativa Comunitaria will be receiving donations until Monday, September 18, when it will bring much needed supplies to the community. Although their website is currently down, you can donate using Paypal by sending money to firstname.lastname@example.org. When you make your donation, make sure to mention that you want the funds to go to Loíza.
Although the US Virgin Islands are not buried as deeply in a debt crisis as Puerto Rico, they were hit much harder than their neighboring territory. Tim Duncan, a retired NBA star, created a relief fund for the US Virgin Islands and has promised to match donations up to $1,000,000.
The central and western provinces of Cuba were also devastated by Irma, as strong wind and torrential rain laid the country bare and led to 10 confirmed deaths. To support Cubans in urgent need of medical attention, you can donate to MEDICC. MEDICC is a US-based nonprofit that works to promote US-Cuba health collaboration. They are currently working with the Cuban health system to ensure that the hospitals, community clinics, maternity centers, and senior homes damaged by Irma receive the supplies required to continue providing aid.