The Important Role of Nonprofits After a Natural Disaster
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The Important Role of Nonprofits After a Natural Disaster

In the wake of the recent barrage of devastating hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, and Maria, many cities and even entire states or territories have been largely demolished and left underwater. Millions of residents are in need of food, water, electricity, or simply a huge helping hand to clean up the debris and re-establish a normal life. The one light in all of this destruction is the opportunity for people and groups to come together and demonstrate the kindness of humanity as everyone pitches in to restore order to the affected areas. Crucial to this process are the large-scale contributions made by nonprofit organizations, groups who collectively dedicate millions of dollars and thousands of workers to aid in the cleanup process.

While government and federal first-responder organizations, such as FEMA, contribute a large portion of the immediate aid to affected areas, there are simply not enough resources to handle all of the needs of the people after a large-scale disaster. Nonprofit organizations are not only able to supplement the funds provided by the government, but can carry out smaller-scale charitable works on a more specific basis, such as providing local housing, food, and clothing for displaced residents.

The most well-known and historically established nonprofit is the American Red Cross. While many are familiar with the Red Cross because to their blood drives, they are also a large contributor to relief in disaster situations. The Red Cross contributes 332.8 million dollars per year to nearly 64,000 separate disaster situations. A significant portion of the funding for the Red Cross comes from individual donations, allowing a charitable outlet to those who wish to help out with a cause but are unable to become directly involved. However, the Red Cross also provides an opportunity to become involved with the hands-on efforts of disaster relief. Each year, the Red Cross uses well over 300,000 volunteers, which allows not only additional manpower, but for the allocation of monetary resources to where it is needed most.

While the Red Cross provides much needed help in disaster situations, there are certain tasks that it does not perform, such as search and rescue, evacuation coordination, pet sheltering, and medical sheltering. This shows the value of the thousands of other disaster-relief related nonprofits across the country, who all contribute in different ways to the different needs of a post-disaster community. The are several charities specifically prepared for hurricane relief scenarios. Here are a few notable nonprofits and their contributions to relief efforts:

  • Direct Relief – This organization has been deemed 100% efficient by Forbes magazine, and has been among the first responders for many natural disasters. They work quickly and employ a Hurricane Preparedness Program to effectively help out those in need.
  • Heart to Heart International – Heart to Heart was directly involved in preparing for and providing relief after Hurricanes Patricia and Katrina. Staff and volunteers work out of a central location to prepare Ready Relief Boxes and Heart to Heart Care Kits to distribute to areas in need.
  • Convoy of Hope – This nonprofit partners with local churches, businesses, government agencies, donors, and other nonprofits to make their efficient charity work possible.
  • Tourism Cares – Tourism Cares doesn’t focus as much on immediate relief as it does the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the damaged areas left behind. They operate with the goal of re-establishing tourism in affected areas by creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

While each nonprofit contributes in its own way with varying degrees of available resources, the importance of the entire network of nonprofits cannot be disputed as they all provide much needed care and compassion in times of need.

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