Yesterday I watched in awe as news reporters broadcast live from Atlantic City, N.J., the Delaware coast and the Battery in New York City. Hurricane Sandy transformed into superstorm Sandy, and the storm has lived up to the hype. Floods, fires, downed trees and power outages are affecting millions of residents in the Northeast.
The nation needs to come together during the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and every single one of us can help, regardless of where we live.
The American Red Cross had to cancel about 100 blood drives due to the storm. This means that the national blood supply is going to take a hit to the tune of 3,200 donations, and so the American Red Cross is asking for eligible citizens to donate blood regardless of where they live. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule a blood donation.
In addition to blood donations, the American Red Cross is asking for financial donations. A financial donation has the most immediate and widespread impact. You can donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund online or donate $10 from your mobile phone by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
Feeding America is working with member food banks to provide food and water to those displaced after the storm. Feeding America works with more than 200 food banks and 61,000 food pantries and shelters. You can make an online financial donation to help Feeding America provide meals to Hurricane Sandy victims.
AmeriCares Medical and Humanitarian Aid
AmeriCares provides medical care and humanitarian aid to areas affected by natural disasters. The organization prepared for Hurricane Sandy by placing emergency response teams and mobile clinics on stand-by. Financial donations to AmeriCares Disaster Relief Fund will help support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
Humane Society Disaster Relief Fund
Our favorite four-legged friends also need help in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Humane Society of the United States has a disaster relief fund that supports animal rescue and relief efforts. You can donate online and your funds will be dedicated specifically to disaster relief projects.
Volunteer in New York City and New Jersey
If you live in the New York City metropolitan area and want to physically help with recovery efforts, you can contact NYC Service. According to the organization’s Facebook post, volunteer efforts are being coordinated through email. Simply send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address and borough and you will be contacted as needed.
New Jersey volunteer efforts are being coordinated through a dedicated emergency response department. Call 1-800-537-7397 or email Rowena.Madden@sos.state.nj.us for volunteer information. Thank you to The Wall Street Journal for sharing these resources.
Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
If you want to target your donation, the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund will help recovery efforts in Virginia. The state-managed fund was created in response to an April 2011 tornado outbreak.
BBB offers donation advice
Unfortunately, disasters bring out the con artists. Before you donate to an organization, read the Better Business Bureau's advice on Hurricane Sandy donations.
"Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers quickly. Determine if the charity’s website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs."
Tips for business donors
If you own a small business and want to help, either through business donations or business-sponsored employee participation programs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a useful list of business donor tips.
"Your company can announce its pledge quickly, but this does not mean that all funds have to be committed to a single organization or within a short time frame. Most disaster aid efforts decline dramatically within six months after the disaster, but it can take as long as 25 years for some communities to fully recover. A good rule of thumb is to designate 1/3 of your donation for relief, 1/3 for recovery, and 1/3 for planning for future community resilience."
Related hurricane Sandy stories on MNN:
MNN tease photo of trees down: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images