How to help the victims of Hurricane Irma and Maria from the UK
Last week Hurricane Irma hit some of the world’s most impoverished communities, this week Hurricane Jose and then Maria hit for round two. This has been one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record, with Hurricane Irma the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Atlantic basin
To look at the science for a moment, the main reason for so much activity this year can be largely attributed to the ‘warm phase’ the world has been in since 1995. This is caused by climate changes that have led to a lack of vertical wind shear in the atmosphere and very warm sea surface temperatures. This causes more frequent storm development and rapid intensification over the Atlantic basin.
For many the events of the last few weeks are a clear sign the climate change is not a threat but actually very real and it is impacting us now. Leaving huge swathes of devastation in their wake, these storms have thrashed Islands across the Caribbean and Atlantic, flattening hospitals, airports, schools and homes. A state of emergency has been declared across much of these regions with many homeless and without vital supplies.
Sometimes these events can seem very far away and it can be hard to know how to best to help. Here are some of the UK charities that are battling to help those devastated by this deadly storm and how you can help.
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross has volunteers stationed in every country the Hurricanes have and are expected to hit, with a multi-country relief and recovery effort underway. Their teams are helping communities prepare for storms as well as providing aid in the immediate aftermath. Their search and rescue teams are also working to help recover people from collapsed buildings and providing first aid.
The Red Cross has said that, while many people are keen to offer items of clothing and food to help victims, cash donations are the most helpful contribution.
This allows the charity to provide the most useful supplies to devastated communities as well as give cash directly to those affected to buy what they need.
Many of those affected are still recovering from previous storms such as Hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti less than a year ago, killing hundreds and leaving many homeless. This means many are in temporary and vulnerable shelters which have been destroyed by the recent storms, leaving them homeless again.
Oxfam are working with local authorities to provide emergency repairs to water and sanitation facilities in Haiti, Cuba and Dominican Republic.
Missing Maps, founded by charities such as British red cross and Medicin’s Sans Frontieres, is an OpenStreetMap, which allows charities to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world using satellite imagery. This gives humanitarian organisations who are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people a clear picture of the scale of need meaning they can be much more accurate in the type of and amount of aid they provide.
It is built on Open Source software meaning anyone can get involved and help to map vulnerable areas. You can get involved today from the comfort of your own home!
UNICEF estimates that over 11 million children will be impacted by the recent hurricanes, 3 million of whom are under the age of 5. UNICEF say the most pressing task is to provide drinking water and sanitation to the victims of the storm, as well as protection and psychological support to the huge number of children affected.
Save The Children
According to Save The Children, around 40% of those affected by the recent storms live in poverty. Their teams are working to build emergency shelters for these people but currently can accommodate just 900,000 people across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Volunteers are now converting churches, schools and community centres but more aid is needed to provide these people with the support they need.
A closing thought.
The best way to beat a hurricane is to stop it from happening. While the priority for the next few months should be to provide humanitarian assistance to those impacted, addressing climate change is a key factor in reducing the frequency and ferocity of storms in the future.
Perhaps client change threats are like health warnings; until you go to your doctor with chest pain or you have a small stroke and he tells you that you have diabetes or you’re morbidly obese those warnings to eat less processed foods or exercise more don’t really stick in the brain. Are we at that stage now? Have we had the small stroke that has left us with trauma but we can recover? We’ve increased the earth’s temperature by little more than 1C so far but it has been enough to cause some devastating side effects. We’re at a tipping point, we need to act now before we pass the point of no return.
Many of these organisations are also helping the recent victims of the earthquake in Mexico City. Check out their websites for more information for how you can help.