12 Ways Brits Can Help Hurricane Irma Victims Right Now
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm recorded in the Atlantic Basin, has left a trail of devastation in its wake.
It has already caused chaos throughout the Caribbean and US. With winds of up to 185 miles an hour, and 20-foot waves, it last week hit Puerto Rico, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Bermuda, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin, and other US and British Virgin Isles. Over the weekend, it moved on to Florida.
Thousands have been displaced, many more are without power or a fresh water supply, and dozens have been killed.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that more support will be announced in the coming days, and insists that Britain is doing all it can to help.
British territories govern independently, but rely on the UK for defence from natural disasters. The fund was initially set at £12 million, but UK aid increased the fund to meet the growing challenge.
"You can see an unprecedented British effort to deal with what has been an unprecedented catastrophe for the region,” Johnson told the Today show. "Of the £32 million we've earmarked, £28 million has already been spent and we will be announcing further support later on, in the course of the next few days."
In Anguilla, RFA Mounts Bay has delivered six tonnes of emergency aid, reinforced shelters, and restored power to its hospital. The British military ship patrols Caribbean waters for six months of the year during the Hurricane season, and was the first to arrive on the scene to provide disaster relief.
There are just under 500 British troops now deployed in the region too. This includes 50 British police officers sent to British territories to help restore order, and 125 troops already in the British Virgin Islands to prevent looting.
It comes after some MPs have said that the UK’s response to the disaster has been “found wanting,” amid criticism that it reacted slower than France and the Netherlands. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the government "should have acted much faster".
But, if you’re watching the news and feeling powerless, we’ve compiled a list of ways that you can help too — through donations, volunteering, or giving blood or shelter.
1) You can volunteer or donate to the Red Cross. They need volunteers in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The British government will also double any donation you give.
2) Donate to crowdfunding website GlobalGiving to aid relief and recovery efforts in regions affected by the hurricane.
3) Donate to UNICEF for relief aimed at helping children return to education.
4) Donate to the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, which is providing support to victims in those areas.
5) Donate to Save The Children to help families and children.
6) Volunteer with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to help in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other neighbouring areas.
7) Donate to SPCA International to support shelters and rescue groups working with displaced animals in need.
8) Donate to the Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit that’s helping victims in the British Virgin Islands and Haiti.
9) Donate to Oxfam to support people on the ground in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
10) Donate to ConPRmetidos, a local Puerto Rican nonprofit that provides relief to communities impacted by the hurricane.
11) You can give blood if you’re close to the affected areas. Search for local blood drives here.
12) Offer shelter with AirBnb to help those displaced by the hurricane and relief workers deployed to help.