How to Help: Hurricane Maria

If the hurricane season of 2017 wasn’t devastating, it would be funny.

First it was Hurricane Harvey, then Irma, and now Maria. Three major hurricanes, all striking within one month. From small Caribbean islands to the United States, people need help with recovery and they need it now. Puerto Rico has over 3.4 million American citizens, but the US government has been slow to respond to relief efforts. The destruction and devastation is being described as “apocalyptic” – – it will take weeks, if not months for power to be restored on parts of the island. Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island. So, how can you help?

  1. Cash: Most organizations are asking for cash, rather than supplies, so they can route help to where it’s needed most more quickly. Here are some of the largest groups with campaigns underway
  2. Supplies: The government of Puerto Rico has also launched a guide that details how individuals or companies can donate emergency and construction supplies (from bottled water, hand sanitizer and formula to extension cords, tarp and safety glasses).
  3. Volunteer: Once infrastructure is stable, the island will also need volunteers.
  4. Spread the word! Part of the problem is that much of Puerto Rico isn’t able to ask for help, due to loss of power and infrastructure.

Check out’s recommended list of list of charities accepting donations to help Puerto Rico:

ConPRmetidos: The Puerto Rican organization focused on public-private partnership is aiming to raise $150,000 for relief and recovery. You can give here.

Global Giving: A charity crowdfunding site that is attempting to raise $2 million to be used exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)

Salvation Army: The Christian charity is emphasizing its intentions to help with long-term recovery. You can give here.

Americares: The nonprofit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)


PR Power NHC

Night-time images of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Tortola and Saint Croix before and after the recent hurricanes. Image courtesy NHC

DONATE AND HELP.  But please… DON’T DONATE MONEY TO THE RED CROSS. Instead donate to organizations that will be on the ground helping people get back on their feet. We believe that there are many other options who will use your money better to aid those affected by the Hurricanes.

I was personally made homeless by Hurricane Sandy.  In the months after the hurricane, we saw a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations from around the world that helped the people on the Rockaway Peninsula. (Thank you!)

We did not see the Red Cross. Except for on TV — you know that big concert with Bon Jovi that raised over $300Million for Hurricane Sandy victims. That money that was very slow to be distributed and some of which was moved to other areas of the country after the Red Cross determined that no more help was needed in the Rockaways.  (BTW – people are still not 100% back in their houses, 5 years later.)

Do a little more research.   Here are other sources that also suggest that the Red Cross is not the best at Disaster Aid.

During Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, 40% of the Red Cross Relief Trucks were diverted for public relations

25% of the funds raised to help Hurricane Victims in Haiti was used for internal expenses

Here are a couple of articles with lists with other great options.

What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster

How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico