One of the most powerful storms to strike the US, Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight on Wednesday and swept through Louisiana and Texas in a dangerous category four storm. Though Laura has weakened to a tropical depression since, the storm has devastated the Gulf region of the US and impacted communities that were already struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19. As a result, people have been left with no power, homes have been destroyed, and fires have ensued from storm damage. While the post-storm effects and damage are still being assessed, it is clear that people affected need help in rebuilding their communities and homes. From contributing financially to volunteering in person, here's what you can do to support the victims of Hurricane Laura.
Donate money to relevant organisations and funds
If you're able to help out financially, there are plenty of local and national organisations specifically working to help those affected by Hurricane Laura, and they could use your help. Check out the list of funds and organisations ahead to get started.
- The Red Cross is accepting donations to provide food, shelter, supplies, and other assistance to those affected by the storm. Since the Red Cross is currently not accepting supplies or food due to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial donations are the most effective way to get help to those in need.
- The Salvation Army has set up mobile kitchens throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas for survivors and rescue workers on the front lines, and financial donations will help fund these meals.
- Save the Children works to protect children during national emergencies. The organisation is currently mobilizing to provide essential and urgent items to displaced families and children in need.
- SBP helps victims rebuild their homes and restore local businesses in the aftermath of a disaster, as efficiently as possible.
- Family Promise, an organisation dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families, has started a fund to directly support families experiencing homelessness in the Gulf region due to the hurricane and tropical storm.
- Americares Foundation is providing medicine and relief supplies to clinics in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in the path of the storm. Every $1 donated can provide $20 in aid.
- GlobalGiving, a nonprofit organisation that connects donors to grassroots projects, has set up a disaster relief fund to aid communities and first responders that were directly impacted with emergency supplies like food, water, and medicine.
- The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana is raising money to provide disaster grants for nonprofits that help victims in immediate need.
- The Houston Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is stocking up to feed people in need. Every $1 donated provides three meals.
- United Way of Southwest Louisiana has set up a response fund to support victims of the hurricane through immediate and long-term recovery efforts, as well as by providing grants to community partners.
Donate supplies and nonperishable food items
If giving money is not an option for you, consider donating nonperishable food, PPE, cleaning supplies, or any other items you may have. Here's a list of organisations accepting supplies in the wake of the storm to help you get started.
- Cajun Navy Relief has volunteers on the ground all over the Gulf Coast to provide assistance to those in need. The nonprofit is specifically seeking donations of rubber boots, bug spray, bleach, gloves, masks, wipes, respirators, and other cleaning supplies. They are also accepting monetary donations.
- Louisiana Baptists, a network of churches, is deploying volunteers to directly help victims. The organisation is currently requesting supplies like cleaning buckets, mops, bleach, rags, soap, and hand sanitizer, as well as cash donations.
- The Lakewood Church is collecting supplies like bottled water, baby formula, baby wipes, and nappies to send to communities in east Texas and Louisiana.
- Local food banks in the Gulf area like the Second Harvest Food Bank in South Louisiana and Southeast Texas Food Bank are accepting cleaning products, nonperishable food items, and produce to help feed people affected by the disaster.
Blood donation needs are high in the aftermath of a major hurricane coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, so if you're an eligible blood donor and unaffected by Hurricane Laura, consider giving blood or platelets to support those in need.
Particularly short on blood donations, The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Centre has 17 neighbourhood donor centres where you can donate. Check out giveblood.org to find a list of locations and hours.
If you feel healthy and safe to do so, consider volunteering your time and efforts to help aid people in need. And not all opportunities are in person — some of the organisations below also offer remote opportunities, so you can provide assistance from home.
- The Red Cross has many different opportunities for volunteers, but the most needed ones include: licenced health care professionals who can provide disaster health services, blood donor support, shelter service, and virtual positions.
- Cajun Navy is seeking volunteers for rescue, dispatch, logistics, information technology, and support services.
- SBP is looking for local volunteers to immediately assist with rebuilding homes and distributing food and resources, as well as people who can help remotely.
- The Houston Food Bank is currently loading its trucks with food. They will dispatch once road conditions and water levels are safe enough to do so, and they need volunteers to respond quickly to get supplies out to the affected communities.
- Louisiana Baptists is offering volunteering opportunities for those with disaster relief credentials and training.
- All Hands and Hearts, an emergency response organisation that sends volunteers to disaster sites, has a 12-week service commitment for volunteers looking to assist victims impacted by the hurricane.