Hurricane Maria Relief

Posted on September 20, 2017

CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in efforts to provide emergency relief and humanitarian assistance to the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Updated on September 25, 2017

Less than two weeks since Hurricane Irma devastated the eastern Caribbean, these same islands faced a new threat: Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on the island of Dominica on Monday, September 18th, as a Category 5 storm. Twenty-seven deaths have been confirmed on the island and more are expected. The full extent of the damage on Dominica is still being assessed.

Hurricane Maria then directly hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20th, as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm. It is the first and strongest Category 4 or higher to hit the island in nearly 80 years. The storm ripped trees out of the ground and slammed the island with 145 mph winds. The Puerto Rico Resident Director reports that the devastation has set the island back 20-30 years. At least ten people have been confirmed killed by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and that number is expected to grow as officials from remote towns make contact with officials in the capital, San Juan.  

Most buildings in Puerto Rico are damaged or destroyed. Debris is scattered throughout all areas of the island; roads are blocked or completely washed away, isolating residents. A damaged dam is in danger of collapse. Millions are without power or communications. Cell phone service is severely limited. Puerto Rico's Governor, Ricardo Rosselló, warned of a looming humanitarian crisis and urged swift action by Congress to approve a federal aid package.

Although Hurricane Maria will not make direct landfall in the United States, it is expected to bring coastal flooding, winds and rain along parts of the North Carolina coast and the Virginia Tidewater. Maria is projected to pound the U.S. coast with high surf and rip currents as far north as southeast New England.

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, etc.

As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with disaster relief efforts should only give to legitimate charities with an established track record of helping people in need.

People need to be on guard concerning the 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.

Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals that purport to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, Generosity by Indiegogo, YouCaring, etc. These may be fraudsters, and even if they are legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid. (For more related to crowdfunding sites, see CharityWatch's article: Crowdfunding Popularity Continues to Soar Despite Risks to Donors.)

The best way to help is by sending a check. 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 to these nations.

CharityWatch identifies the following Top-Rated charities, which are providing relief to Hurricane Maria victims 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.

Related Charities

All Hands and Hearts - Smart ResponseA+
American Jewish Joint Distribution CommitteeA
American Red CrossB+
Catholic Relief ServicesA+
Direct Relief & Direct Relief FoundationA
Episcopal Relief & DevelopmentA
Hispanic FederationA
International Medical CorpsA
Lutheran World ReliefA
MAP InternationalB+
Mercy CorpsA
Operation USAA-
Samaritan's PurseA-
Save the ChildrenA-
Team RubiconA-
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)A+
United States Fund for UNICEFA
World VisionA-

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