Puerto Rico Relief in Hurricane Maria Aftermath
May 31, 2018
CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in ongoing relief efforts and humanitarian assistance for the victims of Hurricane Maria and the residents of Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria directly hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in September of 2017 as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm. It was the first and strongest Category 4 or higher to hit the island in nearly 80 years. Even today, the effects of Maria are still being felt across the island. The official government death toll in Puerto Rico is listed at 64, but a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that more than 4,600 “excess deaths” occurred in the aftermath of the storm. These “excess deaths” can be attributed to the failures of medical and other critical infrastructure on the island. Even this updated death toll is likely an underestimate, according to the study.
There has been $16 billion in federal disaster relief approved for Puerto Rico, but that total is considerably lower than the $94.4 billion Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has said the island needs for its recovery efforts. The damaging effects of Hurricane Maria will likely continue to plague the island and its residents for years to come.
The Related Charities listed below perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.
Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency shelters, food and water, health care, psychological trauma counseling, rebuilding efforts, etc.
As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with humanitarian relief efforts should only give to legitimate charities with an established track record of helping people in need.
- Be on guard for a surge of solicitations related to any highly publicized crisis. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer.
- Do not respond to, or click on any attachments, links or pictures included in, emails or text messages received from unknown senders.
- Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals purporting to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. These may be fraudsters, and even if they are legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.
- Scammers may try to use copy-cat names similar to those of well-known charities. Avoid name confusion by independently verifying that the charity is legitimate before you donate. Reputable charities will not pressure you to give immediately.
- Beware of individuals or others claiming to be third party intermediaries for charities or those in need. It is best to give directly only to the charities that you are confident are legitimate and recognized for providing disaster or humanitarian relief.
SEND A CHECK, NOT GOODS
The best way to help is by sending a check or donating securely by credit card. Such cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed types of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials, and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after a tsunami in the Pacific, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami-stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent.
CharityWatch identifies the following Top-Rated charities, which are providing relief to Hurricane Maria victims and the residents of Puerto Rico and receive an “A” or “B+” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Top-Rated charities also must meet CharityWatch's Governance and Transparency benchmarks. Contact the organizations below for information on specific relief operations now underway.