The storm also passed through Cuba and the Bahamas, leaving extensive damage. It continues to move up the coast in the U.S., where it has killed at least 6 people and left well over 1 million people without power.
If you would like to help those affected by the storm, here’s what you should keep in mind.
Check the charity
Before you donate to a charity, make sure you know where your aid is going. The Center for International Disaster Information has compiled a list of charities that are sending help, and it recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.
Make sure your donation is secure by going through an organization’s official website or sending a check in the mail. Charity Navigator says you should never donate over the phone, email or unknown social media pages, as these are easier for scammers to target.
Give cash, not supplies
While many organizations do accept supplies, the CIDI says you should instead consider donating cash to reputable organizations. This is less of a strain on the charity and allows them to help more, the CIDI explained.
“Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods,” the organization explained on its website.
The CIDI says you should not expect organizations to ask the general public to volunteer overseas following big disasters like these. That’s because experts are needed.
“Candidates with the greatest likelihood of being chosen have fluency in the language of the disaster-affected area, prior relief experience, and expertise in technical fields such as medicine, communications, logistics, water/sanitation and engineering,” the CIDI explained.
However, that doesn’t mean volunteers aren’t needed in the U.S. For those who are interested in donating their time to help affected areas, Volunteer Florida has a form you can fill out to learn more.
Know that blood is needed
If you can’t donate money or travel to affected areas, consider donating blood. The Red Cross had to cancel blood drives because of the storm, adding to an already urgent need for blood and platelets. The organization encourages everyone in parts of the country that aren’t affected, especially people who have type O blood, to make an appointment.