WASHINGTON – As the nation performs immediate life-saving and life-sustaining activities for those survivors in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) collaborates with its private sector partners to promote efficient and effective management of donations and volunteers.
We are, again, reminded after witnessing Hurricane Maria’s destruction that the compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a disaster. It is through individuals, non-profits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and governmental agencies working together that we will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of these catastrophic storms.
The following information is provided to assist those who wish to contribute, whether through financial donation or personal volunteerism.
The fastest way to help
As with previous storms, the most effective means to support recovery of communities affected by Hurricane Maria is to donate time or money to trusted voluntary-, faith- and community-based charitable organizations. This gives these organizations the ability to purchase what survivors need right now. In addition, when these organizations purchase goods or services locally, they pump money back into the local and regional economy, helping businesses recover faster.
It is important to remember unsolicited donated goods (e.g., clothing, miscellaneous household items, mixed or perishable foodstuffs) require voluntary agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Donate through a trusted organization
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) lists trusted organizations receiving donations, many of which are already coordinating relief and response efforts in the Caribbean. The NVOAD website has information on non-profit organizations accepting or registering individual in-kind donations here. For corporate donations connect here.
You may also make financial donations to a National VOAD member organization to help voluntary or charitable organizations continue to provide services to Hurricane Maria survivors.
Volunteering in Response to Hurricane Maria
Anyone seeking an opportunity to get involved in response and recovery operations is encouraged to volunteer with local and nationally known organizations. A list of volunteer websites is available at www.nvoad.org.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ask that volunteers not self-deploy, as unexpected arrival in affected communities creates additional burden for first responders. Those who wish to register to volunteerto support response efforts for Hurricane Maria can go here for Puerto Rico (https://prvoad.communityos.org/cms/irma) and here: (https://usvivoad.communityos.org/cms/irma) for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To register as an affiliated volunteer with a voluntary or charitable organization, visit the National VOAD for a list of partners active in disaster. Alternatively, you may register your interest to volunteer here for partner organizations to reach out to you.
Patience is paramount, and the need for volunteers endures. Recovery activities associated with Hurricane Maria will require volunteer engagement for many months and years to come, and the help of many will be required.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.
Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.
The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.