The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma, via @TravelLatte.net

The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma

We interrupt our regular schedule…

We never planned to be writing a blog post about a favorite destination that spoke of anything worse than sunburn. This time of year, we’re usually writing about trips to see fall colors, as was our plan this week. As a friend of ours likes to say, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.”

Along came Hurricane Harvey, and we watched in horror as a city was submerged. Just as those floodwaters were receding, the “hIRMAcane” began threatening our friends and family in Florida. We spent another weekend glued to CNN and making donations to help our fellow Americans. Though the destruction from these monster storms was awful, we know these cities will rebuild. We know that the American spirit and government will be there to help. (Privately, we are so thankful that our friends, family, and fellow bloggers in Houston and Florida have weathered the storms with only minor damage.)

Where Irma Hit (map): The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma, via @TravelLatte.net

The area of the Caribbean where Hurricane Irma left a wake of destruction. (Image: New York Times)

And then we started seeing reports coming from the Caribbean.

If your image of the paradise playgrounds that dot the Caribbean Sea is of palm-lined beaches and lush resorts, those islands would be unrecognizable today. Hurricane Irma laid siege to an area of islands southeast of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The result was near complete devastation.

Siege (noun)
(Military) The offensive operations carried out to capture a fortified place by surrounding it, severing its communications and supply lines, and deploying weapons against it.

Antigua & Barbuda

When a tornado hits, one home may be completely destroyed while its neighbor is nearly untouched. Irma struck the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in much the same way. Antigua was the lucky neighbor, emerging with relatively little damage. Barbuda, just 28 miles north, took a direct hit as the first landfall in a Category 5 Hurricane. The island was nearly destroyed. Prime Minister Gaston Browne told CNN that 95% of the island’s buildings were damaged or destroyed, the hospital is heavily damaged, and the airport is closed.

U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John and St. Thomas suffered severe damage, and will take months to rebuild. Many hotels have announced closures for six months to a year, while damage in some areas is still being assessed. As of this past week, airlines were still evacuating tourists (and some residents) with no word on when regular service might resume.

British Virgin Islands

The news from Tortola was doubly bad: First the island fell victim to Hurricane Irma, and then to widespread looting. Residents compared their island to a Third World country with no electricity or running water. Damage on the many islands that make up the British Overseas Dependency was widespread, though some islands escaped with comparatively little damage.

Tortola after Irma: The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma, via @TravelLatte.net

Hurricane Irma destroyed buildings on the Caribbean island of Tortola in this Sept. 11 photo by Capt. George Eatwell RM/British Ministry of Defense via Reuters

St. Martin / Sint Maarten

While some tourists have a French or Dutch preference, Mother Nature didn’t seem to care. Both sides of the island suffered heavy damage. In French Saint Martin, 90% of the island’s structures were destroyed. Much like Tortola, the Dutch side has suffered hurricane damage followed by looting. Both French President Emanuel Macron and Dutch King Willem-Alexander have both visited the island. The King remarked, “I’ve seen a lot of war zones in my life, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Relief and Rebuilding

The stories and images coming from the Caribbean are devastating, and these are just a few. Supplies are desperately needed, with many challenges in getting them there. While governments are promising aid, residents say it’s slow in reaching them. Relief agencies and charities are, in many areas, still assessing needs and logistics, but are accepting donations.

Once relief efforts are in place, the islands face months of cleanup and reconstruction. This isn’t Florida or Texas; machinery and materials won’t roll in on a truck from the next state over. They will get there eventually, but that’s just the beginning.

The people of these islands haven’t just lost buildings, they’ve lost livelihoods. These are tourism-based economies, and tourism won’t be coming back for months, perhaps years. During those days, there will be real needs for food, medicine, and other essentials of life. Things that cost money, which comes from a livelihood, which has been completely wiped out.

If the images of the destruction weren’t bad enough, that thought brought us to tears. It is likely to be quite some time that islanders will be reliant on aid from strangers, via relief agencies and charities. That will be their “new normal” until tourism returns.

St. Martin after Irma: The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma, via @TravelLatte.net

The French Caribbean island of St. Martin was damaged by Hurricane Irma. Lionel Chamoiseau / AFP – Getty Images

A Moral Obligation

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Caribbean tourism industry. We’ve played on their beaches, shopped in their stores, drank their rums and beers. We took full advantage of the relaxing paradise just a short flight or cruise away. We helped sustain that tourism economy.

Those who were dependent on us in the good times, are even more dependent on our help now. We feel it’s only right that we share our blessings, and help sustain those who have lost so much in the Caribbean. We hope you feel the same. If you’re in a position to contribute, here are some of the agencies assisting in the Caribbean (with their Charity Navigator ratings):

Where to Donate for Caribbean Hurricane Help

All Hands – 4 stars
All Hands is focusing relief efforts on the U.S. Virgin Islands, with a team en route to assess needs.
Global Giving – 4 stars
Global Giving is a charity crowdfunding site attempting to raise $2-million to be sued exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts in the US and Caribbean.
Convoy of Hope – 4 stars
Convoy of Hope focuses on hunger and basic needs, and is currently helping those in need in the aftermath of wildfires in Montana, flooding in Houston, and throughout Florida. They have “boots on the ground” in the Caribbean, and are organizing local contribution events across the USA.
Oxfam – 3/4 stars
This nonprofit is focusing efforts on the Caribbean islands devastated by Irma.

For more on donating for hurricane relief, in the U.S. and Caribbean, Business Insider has an excellent article detailing both domestic and international charities: The best charities to give to in the wake of Hurricane Irma

You can see more of the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean with a series of Before-and-After images from NPR.

If you have a favorite charity you think should be included, please let us know in the comments below.

21 comments on “The Best Places to Donate to Help the Caribbean after Irma

  1. Pingback: #TheWeeklyPostcard – 22 September 2017 - TravelLatte

  2. And then there’s Hurricane Maria destroying whatever wasn’t already destroyed by Irma. I’ve never been to the Carribean but my heart goes out to all those affected. How many disasters can there be at one time? The most frustrating thing is that this is what climate scientists have been warning us all about for years. This is many, many chickens coming home to roost – and those affected first are those who were least responsible for it.

  3. It’s always the poorest places that are most affected, and they aren’t usually damages a little, they are devastated when a natural disaster can happen. The locals in the Caribbean can’t seem to catch a break, what with another hurricane heading it’s way, it’s unbelievable and my heart goes out to them. Thank you for putting this post together, I have shared it to my private FB page as well as everywhere I can think of! #feetdotravel

  4. This is so great of you to share! It’s heartbreaking to know how affected these communities are and how long it will probably last. I can’t even begin to imagine their struggles. Thank you for bringing awareness and sharing these places where we can donate. #weekendwanderlust and #theweeklypostcard

    • Thanks, Edith. We just cannot imagine what our Caribbean friends are going through, and will be for a long time. We often say, “If there’s anything we can do to help…” Even if it’s small, we’re hoping this will help.

  5. What a heart breaking post, Rob! Seeing these beautiful islands in the Caribbean reduced to rubble is so hard to comprehend. You are right when you say that we have a moral obligation towards these people who are so dependent on us in these times of struggle. Hopefully they will get enough help to start rebuilding and we’ll be able to enjoy once again their corner of paradise. Such a sad story!

    • We’re glad you feel that way, too, Anda. In fact, we’ve heard from quite a few who feel that obligation. It’s so sad that the islands we all love so much have been so devastated, but heartening to hear how much everyone wants to help. 🙂

  6. Though it’s so sad to have to write a post like this, I’m glad that you did. I’ve donated for relief from Harvey’s trauma – and having family in Florida, I have, of course, donated for relief from Irma. But now I will be donating for help to the Caribbean. So very sad.

    • Thanks Jill – we’re hoping that sharing will sort of amplify our donations. We can contribute some, but if we can get the word out, hopefully we’ll reach more (like you!) who can contribute, too. Together, we can help the Caribbean make it through!

  7. This list is really helpful – I’ve always felt a piece of my heart lies with the Caribbean and the devastation there is horrible. I’ve been to many of the places wiped out by these awful storms. Thanks for compiling this list!

    • Us too, Jenn! We loved our time in the Caribbean, and those fond memories really made us want to help even more. At first, it was hard to find charities that focused on the Caribbean, which lead us to sharing this list. Glad you found it helpful!

  8. After Hurricane Irma, I figured the Caribbean would have rebuilding to do, but I hadn’t seen images like this yet. The damage is so much worse than I had imagined. Since tourism is a major industry in the Caribbean, this will certainly impact the Caribbean islands’ economies in the coming months. It is such a popular travel destination for North Americans in particular. I hope that if we are willing to spend our vacation dollars there, we’re all also willing to donate to help rebuild these communities. Thank you so much for putting together a list of credible organizations accepting donations. I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my readers and be keeping everyone affected by this horrible hurricane season in my thoughts and prayers. #WeekendWanderlust

    • Erin, that’s exactly how we feel. When we saw the images coming from the Caribbean, we were stunned. That quickly turned to heartbroken for those who not only lost everything they had, but their ability to earn a living, too. Thanks so much for sharing. Collectively we can help them make it through.

  9. wow this is so crazy. i love visited those island and hope to again. Thanks for posting a list. I am skeptical of some places because you just never know you hear terrible stories in the news about people taking advantage during these tragedies. I also saw an article a few days ago about “Some large” number of Americans in trouble from Irma – and they are not in Florida. (Sorry I forget the large number) but it was talking about OUR american brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and USVI

    • Yes, the USVI was really hard hit, and we think the U.S. response there has been lackluster, at best. But then, we’ve heard the same from the British re: the British Virgin Islands. It’s insane to us that we are the closest major country to the Caribbean, but the last to send a high level official. (We’ll just leave it at that, or else we’ll have to climb up on our soap box!) That’s in part why we felt a need for this post – Florida and Texas are getting much needed attention and relief. The USVI, and much of the Caribbean, don’t appear to be, so it’s up to us. We hope many feel the need to help our Caribbean kin, too!

  10. It’s been absolutely horrifying to hear and see the damage and the stories! I have and definitely will be donating again. I also have family in Florida, and my aunt’s sister was just on CNN with Chris Cuomo about a retirement home where 8 people unfortunately died after the hurricane. It just doesn’t seem to end! 🙁 #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • We saw that – what a horrible story! It’s just heartbreaking. We hope your family is weathering the storm and it’s aftermath alright. This storm was so huge, it seems nearly everyone has a connection with someone who was impacted by it. We all have a lot of people to keep in our prayers. And it seems like they’ll need to be there for a long time, too.

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