How Corporate Funders Are Stepping Up for Puerto Rico

According to Triple Pundit, after three hurricanes that have disrupted thousands of lives and generated billions of dollars in damage over the past month, many Puerto Ricans feel ignored. The military, various federal agencies, and disaster relief organizations are working to evacuate residents, distribute aid and repair damaged power grids in Puerto Rico. But private U.S. companies, including  Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley powerhouses, are also stepping up to offer support and crucial services.

Google

CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company and its employees are planning to raise one million dollars in donations to various relief organizations including the Red Cross, World Food Program and UNICEF, to help residents of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands get back on its feet.

Starbucks

The coffee retailer, which employs hundreds of Puerto Ricans, has pledged $250,000 for disaster recovery efforts for the island. The company has also allowed customers to make donations through its smartphone app to benefit the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Facebook

Fortune.com writes that Facebook is donating $1.5 million to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, with the money to be split between the World Food Program and Net Hope. Facebook also sent a “connectivity team” to Puerto Rico with emergency telecommunications support.

Apple

Apple announced that the tech giant’s “community” (which includes the company’s employees as well as customers who donate directly through the Apple App Store and iTunes) has provided more than $13 million to hurricane relief efforts in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, including over one million dollars for Puerto Rico.

Airbnb

The room-sharing startup has been working to provide housing for thousands of people who have been displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria over the past month. Airbnb’s website offers options for users in need of shelter in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, while also providing ways for people with available housing to offer space to those who have been displaced.

Some businesses are lending a hand by providing services and donations, like food and supplies.  AT&T and T-Mobile are waiving cell phone charges to those in impacted areas. Western Union will offer free money transfers to Puerto Rico from the mainland U.S. as soon as the network on the island is stable. While PR residents may feel disappointed in the mainland’s support during this horrible time, corporate funders are stepping up with donations of not only the monetary kind but physical donations as well.

How to Help Best During a Natural Disaster

There are many different ways you can make a difference when you’re interested in helping out during a natural disaster, many of which don’t require you to give money to help those affected. Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll also be helping yourself. Studies show that those who volunteer are happier than those who don’t volunteer. In this article, we will explain a variety of ways that you can help during a natural disaster.

Volunteer Your Time

When you have a little extra time you might consider donating your time rather than donating money. There are many reputable charitable organizations you can volunteer for. One website that puts you in touch with a variety of organizations is VolunteerMatch.org. Here you’ll find a list of organizations that best suit your abilities and needs.

Donate Money

If you’ve got the money and you would like to donate money to a charity, make sure you do your homework beforehand. There are a lot of scams that seem to pop up whenever there’s a natural disaster. You can visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to determine which organization you would like to donate to. Keep a lookout for well-respected names and read reviews. Sometimes giving even a few dollars can help out an organization tremendously.

Donate Items

You can also donate any items you may have around the house; however, it is always best to check the organization’s website to find out what they need before you send these items. Oftentimes there is a shortage of bottled water during a natural disaster. Another sought after item are baby wipes. You can also get family and friends involved by asking them for such supplies.

Offer Shelter

According to Legacy.com, you can also offer shelter to those in need. If you have an extra or spare room in your house and no one is using it, you can offer up this room to provide safe shelter for those who are left with nothing. To find out how you can utilize this program, you can visit the Disaster Response Program website for more information.

Raise Money for a Good Cause

Are you interested in donating money, but don’t have the financial means to do so? What about having a garage sale and selling a lot of the items you no longer use? You can also invite friends and family over and utilize them to increase your earnings. You can also sell items online and raise money to donate.

Now that you know there are ways you can help during a natural disaster, the next step is to get started doing it. You can choose to do as many of these tips as you seem fit. The important thing to remember is that you are helping those who desperately need the help.

Why Facebook Dropped the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Relief

In times of global strife, especially stemming from natural disaster, all available agencies seem to step into place and offer easy, direct ways to donate and help make a difference; Facebook has always been at the forefront of connecting people with places where they can donate to aid relief efforts. Previously, the social network acted as a pipeline for donations to the American Red Cross, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Facebook has begun to steer donations and donators to a small, relatively unknown charity called the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).

For many years, the Red Cross was the go-to charity when it comes to disaster relief efforts. In 2013 following Typhoon Haiyan and in 2015 during the Ebola outbreak, Facebook users were prompted by a button on their home feeds to donate money to the cause through the Red Cross. Even now, President Trump and former President Obama, alongside numerous other celebrities and corporations, are donating copious sums to the charity giant. So what prompted the largest social network in the world to break from the norm and reroute hopeful humanitarians to a much smaller nonprofit?

Plainly put, the Red Cross caught a lot of backlash and criticism for how it handled the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the subsequent millions of dollars it raised for relief. Following the devastating disaster, millions of people donated to the Red Cross which collected nearly half a billion dollars to help recovery efforts. It pledged to use the $500 million to help rebuild the devastated areas with new homes, roads, and schools.

However, we’re now seven years after the fact and, while the Red Cross claims to have provided housing to over 130,000 people with that money, only six permanent homes have actually been constructed. While the organization is vastly experienced in the realm of providing emergency disaster relief, it is woefully inexperienced when it comes to rebuilding after a disaster in a developing nation. It also appears to have grievously miscalculated the number of Haitians whom the relief efforts impacted, citing the number at 4.5 million Haitians: Jean Max Bellerive, prime minister of Haiti during the earthquake, notes that this simply cannot be possible as the number of Haitians affected by the crisis did not even come close to 4.5 million.

All of these discrepancies, a desire to get help where it’s needed in as timely a manner as possible, and a goal of changing how people view donations were what prompted Facebook to partner with CDP instead of the Red Cross. In less than four hours after announcing the partnership, CDP reached Facebook’s matching goal of $1 million.

Most Devastating Hurricanes in American History

Natural disasters are a force against which we are all but powerless. The best military in the world can’t defend against an earthquake, and all the planning and preparation in the world can’t stop the devastation rendered by a tornado. When it comes to these naturally occurring phenomena, we as a species and as a society are at the mercy of the power of Mother Nature. All that we can do in their aftermath is pick ourselves up and try to help one another the best way that we’re able.

Texas is currently experiencing this aftermath following the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, which started on August 25, 2017. It has widely been recognized as one of the largest disasters to take place on American soil and is the costliest, estimating damage costs at nearly $180 billion. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, let’s take a look back to the most devastating hurricanes faced by the United States over the past century.

Superstorm Sandy • 2012

In late October of 2012, the eastern half of the United States was hit with one of the costliest storms ever to hit the nation. Of the 50 states, 24 were affected by this Category 3 storm which destroyed more than 650,000 homes and rendered over $50 billion worth of damage while cutting power to 8.5 million people in the Northeastern United States. Just over a month after the hurricane, the 12-12-12: Concert for Sandy Relief raised money for disaster relief, and the United States government passed a bill to provide $60 billion in aid to the areas affected by the storm.

Hurricane Katrina • 2005

In 2005, the Southeastern United States was hit with a storm whose devastation is still being felt over a decade later. While the winds alone wreaked catastrophic damage, the storm surge, peaking at 28 feet in some parts of Mississippi, was what really hurt the area alongside the levees and floodwalls that broke in New Orleans. Until Hurricane Harvey, this was the costliest storm, flooding more than 80% of New Orleans and costing approximately $108 billion in damaged property.

Hurricane Charley • 2004

This Category 4 storm hit ground in Southern Florida during August of 2004. The storm was so bad that Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency for the residents of Florida and, for only the second time in history that a park at Disney World was closed due to a hurricane. All told, the hurricane caused about $15.1 billion worth of damage, making it one of the costlier storms to affect the country.