Hurricane Gustav: Reputable relief resources

BlogHer Original Post

This week I joined much of America in my concern as two significant events unfolded. The first was the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. The second was Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf Coast.

While I don't know anyone in "real life" who lives in the New Orleans area, I know Megan from Velveteen Mind "virtually." She and her family evacuated their home for Hurricane Katrina three years ago this August. When she returned home she, like many others, found only a cement slab remaining. Her "hurricane insurance" didn't cover any of the damage, so she and her family made do and were thankful for the help they received from relief efforts.

...it is important for me to mention that the American Red Cross was an incredible help after Hurricane Katrina. They drove around our neighborhoods providing hot meals to workers, volunteers, and weary young families that just didn't feel like eating another sandwich in the dark. Seeing the Red Cross truck drive down our road was always a welcome sight.

We put aside our pride and accepted help from the Red Cross in the days after Katrina and now make it a priority to begin paying them back. If you are looking for a solid organization to which you can donate, I highly recommend the American Red Cross. I saw first-hand how they use the funds we donate and it was astonishingly refreshing.

They didn't fix everything; they made it easier for us to survive while we fixed it ourselves.

Earlier this week Megan and her family had to evacuate again for Hurricane Gustav. As Megan waited for Gustav to make landfall, she wrote on Twitter: "Almost positive I'll be up all night watching news. I hate the waiting. Now is when Katrina haunts. Picturing our house and wondering..." This time, thankfully, it appears they will have a home to return to.

The American Red Cross - Unloading supplies Westwego, Louisiana Hurricane Gustav.While the damage caused by Gustav may not be as severe as that caused by Katrina (that has yet to be determined), there are still many people who need shelter and food while they are evacuated from their homes, and once they are able to return, will need to repair damage to their homes and property. Once again, relief efforts are playing and will continue to play a significant role.

For anyone wishing to make a donation to help the victims of Gustav, the American Red Cross is always a safe bet. It is important to keep in mind that some seemingly-worthwhile aid organizations pop up in the aftermath of a tragedy, but in this day and age, scams abound and it's important to verify their legitimacy. At the Trend Micro blog they reminded everyone to watch out for Hurricane Gustav relief scams, "noting that there was a rush in the registration of domains with names related to Gustav relief efforts."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a Federal Hurricane Response widget which is "a web tool designed to help share information during a major emergency with links to authoritative federal government sites on how to get help; finding friends and family; health and safety information; how to donate and volunteer; and a summary of what the government is doing." This widget is available for anyone to put on their Web site, blog, or MySpace page. The code for installing the widget can be found on the DHS site.

Others blogging about Hurricane Gustav:

Photo credit: Hurricane Gustav Online Newsroom

Contributing editor Amy Gates blogs about green living, attachment parenting, activism and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

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