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Help in Disaster

Disaster Services

Volunteers and donations have become vital to disaster response and recovery. You can help to reduce the impact of hurricanes and other disasters by being prepared.

Be prepared...

Disasters strike with or without warning. Do you and your family know how to respond? It is important to have an emergency supply kit and a communication plan. Visit for more resources.

Get involved...

  • Give blood -
    Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule a life saving appointment. Donors of all blood types are needed.
  • Get trained -
    Most disaster organizations require a level of training to be sure their volunteers are qualified to supply the services the clients need. Though it is sometimes possible to train y ou in the moment, it is not the most effective way. Signing up with a disaster-based organization in your local community before a disaster is the BEST way to be a great volunteer later.
  • Volunteer locally -
    Your community is a great place to start. There are hundreds of organizations that provide direct social service support in your area and many of these have disaster components to prepare and support those in your area. These same volunteers are often the first line of support in other areas when disaster strikes. Search online for local opportunities or connect to a volunteer center in your community.

Volunteers can...

  • Promote family preparedness by distributing educational materials
  • Prepare and distribute meals to victims and relief workers
  • Assist with the placement and tracking of victims in evacuation shelters
  • Provide child care for disaster survivors
  • Compile and distribute disaster recovery information to survivors
  • Answer phones at volunteer intake or disaster recovery centers
  • Provide debris removal and clean-up assistance to the elderly or disabled

Volunteer wisely to help others...

In a community struggling to respond to and recover from a disaster, an influx of unexpected or unneeded volunteers and donations can make the process even more difficult. Before traveling to a disaster area to help, learn where and when your skills will be needed. Discuss with volunteer organizers how your needs for food, water and shelter will be met while you are volunteering.

When making donations...

Financial contributions are preferred.

  • Cash donations help to avoid the labor and expense of sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods.
  • Voluntary relief agencies use cash to meet victims' specific needs more quickly.
  • Purchasing relief supplied available in the impacted community helps the local economy to recover more quickly.

Donate cash or goods online through the National Donations Management Network.

Donate through an experienced disaster relief organization

Relief agencies prefer the versatility of cash donations; however, some have the infrastructure in place to store and distribute donated goods. To prevent waste, donations of goods should be made only to agencies that have requested specific items.

Confirm the need before collecting. Donors should be wary of anyone who claims that "everything is needed." Many groups have been disappointed that their efforts and the goods they collected were not appreciated. A community hit by a disaster, however, does not have the time, manpower or money to dispose of unneeded donations. Get precise information and confirm the need before collecting any donated goods.

  • To prevent waste, donations of goods should be made only to agencies that have requested specific items.
  • Coordination with a relief organization is essential to ensure that the right goods in the right amounts are collected, and that transportation, warehousing and distribution will go smoothly.

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