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Disaster Response

This list of nonprofit first-responders, while not exhaustive, represents reputable organizations responding to disasters.

Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico, Florida and the Caribbean and Earthquake Response in Mexico

There are over 700,000 children in Puerto Rico. Save the Children, an international NGO is providing water, child-friendly safe spaces and non-food items such as diapers, soap and infant wash bins.

The American Red Cross is sending volunteers from other Red Cross societies (Mexico, Spain, Finland, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia) to provide services and help perform assessments.

Direct Relief a U.S.-based NGO is working with the Puerto Rican Health department to provide health services. They are deploying essential medical kits and supporting with health assessments and are also responding to the earthquake in Mexico.

International Medical Corps is deployed to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and situation reports are being updated on their website.

Hurricane Harvey

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance and disaster relief in times of crisis, is seeking donations to help victims of Harvey. The organization is urging people to call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is the disaster relief arm of the Protestant charitable organization, and it is taking donations to help victims of Harvey. Donors can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to help.

Catholic Charities USA, a Catholic social service organization, is seeking donations to help those who have been affected by Harvey. The group has set up a website devoted to Harvey relief and explains that "long-term recovery" is part of the group's approach to disasters like this one.

The Houston Press has compiled a list of food banks in the affected area, including Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank and Southeast Texas Food Bank. They recommend contacting a food bank directly about their need and what you can do.

The Houston Chronicle noted that Carter BloodCare and the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center are accepting donations.

Austin Pets Alive! is an animal shelter and no-kill pet advocacy group seeking assistance to help with pets following the onset of the storm and has created a page on its website specific to Hurricane Harvey-related needs. 

Global Disaster Relief

There are many professional relief organizations who employ highly trained experts to respond to global natural disasters and humanitarian crises. While several organizations will consider applications from qualified medical professionals wishing to contribute as volunteers, unrestricted financial donations are usually the fastest and most effective way to help.

International Medical Corps is working to relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease by delivering vital healthcare services that focus on training, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance.

Medicines Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders provides acute aid and medical care in situations of armed conflict, natural disasters, neglected people and refugee and IDP crises.

CARE International is a leading humanitarian organization that responds to global emergencies and works to mitigate risk for future disasters.

Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger and injustice. As one of 17 members of the international Oxfam confederation, they work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions. Oxfam saves lives, develops long-term solutions to poverty and campaigns for social change.

Save the Children invests in childhood, every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, they give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. By transforming children's lives now, they change the course of their future and ours.

Other Ways to Help

Standby Task Force asks that new volunteers help support current and future disaster relief. In the aftermath of some of the recent disasters, they have witnessed an increasing number of informal actors, largely volunteer-based, entering the field of crisis mapping for humanitarian response. The development of ICTs has opened unprecedented space for engagement to a variety of individuals and groups, regardless of their physical location and affiliation to traditional responders. Similarly, with increased access to technology local communities — always the first responders in crisis situations — are not only building and improving their own preparedness and response systems, but are also more effectively engaging in traditional humanitarian preparedness.

Free, collaborative maps are uniquely valuable to humanitarian work, especially in places where base map data is often scarce, out of date or rapidly changing. A link between the grassroots OpenStreetMap Community and traditional responders is the main role of Humanitarian OpenStreet. They believe that free geodata can help save and improve lives in times of political crisis and natural disasters.

Humanity Road delivers disaster preparedness and response information to the global mobile public before, during and after a disaster. Providing aid information helps individuals survive, sustain and reunite with each other and with their pets. Humanity Road strives to close the disaster communications gap through process improvement, collaboration, partnerships, education and training.

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