There can be few people who have not seen the devastation Hurricane Irma has wreaked across the Caribbean. As reported by the Telegraph, Hurricane Irma has reduced the island of Barbuda “to rubble,” and is now battering Cuba before swinging north towards Florida. The Category 5 storm is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, and it has reportedly left Barbuda virtually uninhabitable. With Hurricane Jose following in Irma’s path, all the residents of Barbuda have been evacuated to Antigua. The government of Antigua and Barbuda is making an appeal for international assistance to rebuild the smaller of the two islands.
According to The Guardian, Hurricane Irma dropped to a Category 4 hurricane, but the abnormally warm Caribbean waters have allowed the storm to regather intensity, and it is once again a Category 5 storm. As the huge storm moves towards Florida, millions of people in the Sunshine State are following the advice of President Trump and evacuating to areas outside the storms deadly path.
Worryingly, Hurricane Jose is approaching Category 5 as it approaches Barbuda, something that is sure to cause further devastation when it hits the already severely damaged island. Southern Florida is already experiencing storm force winds even though the center of the storm is still 250 miles southeast of Miami.
No one who has seen the damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma could remain unmoved by the apocalyptic scenes it has left in its wake. At least 23 people have died on the islands of St. Martin, St. Barts, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and Anguilla. Four deaths have been reported on the British Virgin Islands and a surfer died on Barbados. Naturally, people are anxious to assist those affected by the storm, but the major agencies are appealing for people to avoid self-deploying to the region as this could hamper rescue teams on the ground.
What Can You Do To Help Those Affected By Hurricanes Irma And Jose?
The American Red Cross has emphasized that the best way to help at present is by making a financial donation because funds will be needed to support their hurricane relief efforts for months, if not for years after the storms abate. The American Red Cross has put out a call for volunteers to assist in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Meanwhile the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross are appealing for both financial donations and volunteers to assist with the cleanup and restoration efforts on Barbuda.
Virginia-based National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster [VOAD] is asking for volunteers to assist in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. VOAD emphasize the need for volunteers to be patient until public officials and disaster relief organizations have assessed the situation on the ground in the affected areas. You can register to help but are urged to wait to be contacted after specific needs are identified.
UNICEF and Oxfam are both appealing for financial donations to enable them to fund their relief efforts right across the region affected by Hurricanes Irma and Jose. The reality is that Hurricane Irma has the potential to cause untold damage when it makes landfall on the continental United States. Those affected will need assistance for months and potentially for years as they seek to recover from an unprecedented disaster.
Federal funds will, of course, be released to help areas in the U.S. to recover, but needs are likely to be much wider than that. For now, the best thing most of us can do is to make a donation to one of the aid organizations who will render assistance in the areas devastated by Irma and Jose.
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