How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Dorian

Members of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) team from RFA Mounts Bay provide aid in Great Abaco, part of a massive rescue effort underway after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. LPhot Paul Halliwell/Ministry of Defence via Getty Images

Hurricane Dorian is inching up the Southeast coast after devastating the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane. It lingered over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island, destroying as many as 13,000 homes, according to Red Cross estimates. So far, seven people have been confirmed dead.

Rescuers are fighting through massive flooding and mind-numbing destruction to save stranded residents amid the rubble and rushing water. The people (and animals) on the islands need immediate emergency help and plenty of assistance when they're ready to start rebuilding.

There will also be need in the U.S. depending on where the hurricane goes next.

Fortunately, people are good at stepping up when there's a great need. Almost half of Americans reported donating for disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina and almost three-fourths donated after 9/11, reports The Conversation.

woman in donation center for Hurricane Dorian
A woman carries a bag of canned goods amid donations for Hurricane Dorian relief at a church in Miami. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Here's how to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

The Red Cross tells The New York Times that shelter, food, water, medication and means of communication are the most urgent needs right now.

"All shelter materials are going to be highly needed," says Stephen McAndrew, deputy director for the Americas of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "We know that there will be a need for psychological support. That will continue."

This overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas shows the devastation from Hurricane Dorian.
This overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas offers a hint of the damaged caused by Hurricane Dorian. Adam Stanton/US Coast Guard via Getty Images

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis recommends The Salvation Army, which works directly with the government’s National Emergency Management Agency.

The Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation was formed by the Grand Bahama Port Authority to manage donations. It offers suggested items to donate and locations to drop off goods.

Global Giving distributes emergency supplies like food, clean water and medicine. Longer-term efforts will help survivors recover and rebuild.

All Hands and Hearts Smart Response offers immediate and long-term assistance, deploying volunteers to the area to help with emergency help and rebuilding.

Team Rubicon is a group of military veterans who rescue people from homes, and clean up and rebuild damaged homes and businesses.

The Direct Relief Hurricane Dorian Fund delivers humanitarian aid to the areas impacted by the storm. This includes first-aid supplies and vital medications.

Charity Navigator evaluates nonprofits across the U.S. to ensure donations are properly managed and used. You can find a list of other charities helping Hurricane Dorian victims at the Charity Navigator website.

Helping the animals

Kittens are ready to be relocated from the path of Hurricane Dorian, courtesy of the ASPCA and Wings of Rescue.
Kittens are ready to be relocated from the path of Hurricane Dorian, courtesy of the and Wings of Rescue. ASPCA

A woman who runs a small animal rescue in Nassau took 97 stray dogs off the street and sheltered them in her home as the strong winds and flooding hit. While Chella Phillips and her four-legged guests rode out the storm without electricity, wondering how they would survive with only a few weeks' worth of dog food, the world was amazed by her act of kindness. Donations poured in to The Voiceless Dogs of Nassau, Bahamas rescue.

There are lots of other ways to help the animal victims of Hurricane Dorian.

The Humane Society of the United States has an Animal Rescue Team that evacuates shelter animals from high-risk areas. The group evacuated more than 1,300 animals during hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.

Similarly, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Wings of Rescue are working together to transport nearly 200 animals to shelters outside of the storm’s path.

Many animal shelters throughout the Southeast are holding adoption events or asking for fosters so they can make room for dogs and cats coming from shelters in the Bahamas or along the East Coast. Check with your local shelter to see how you can help. They might need volunteers, fosters, supplies (blankets, food, toys) or money.