The list of celebrities pitching in to help out the victims of Hurricane Harvey is growing. 

And the most recent star to contribute to the relief effort is no stranger to helping out those in need. 

This morning, Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $1 million to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund, Variety reports

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He joins a growing entourage of stars to donate to the victims of one of the worst storms to make landfall in the US since Katrina, including Beyonce, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Ruby Rose, Rachael Ray, Ellen Degeneres, Fall Out Boy, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Kim Kardashian, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, T.I., Jack Antonoff, Chris Young, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and Selena Gomez. 

In response to DiCaprio’s donation, United Way Worldwide president and CEO Brian Gallagher had high praise. 

“Responding to Hurricane Harvey requires the best of all of us — and that’s what this gift represents,” he said

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Established yesterday, the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund “will distribute 100 percent of donations for recovery in the affected areas, community by community, in the months and years ahead,” according to a press release

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United Way, which is supported by nearly 3 million volunteers worldwide, is uniquely positioned to respond to Harvey. The organization has a network of 1,800 community offshoots around the world, 23 of which are located in the path of Hurricane Harvey. 

It also has experience with long-term disaster relief. United Way responded to Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and flooding in India’s Tamil Nadu region in 2015. 

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) is also no stranger to disaster relief. According to Business Insider, the foundation donated to victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

“We support efforts to build climate resilient communities and protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems across the planet, and have supported disaster relief and victim funds in the past,” LDF CEO Terry Tamminen said. “We hope others will step up and support the United Way and other organizations.” 

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Both organizations have their work cut out for them. 

In the past several days, Harvey has gone from a Category 4 hurricane at landfall to a tropical storm that is still currently making its way across the US southeast. Along the way, it dumped trillions of gallons of water on the fourth most populous US city, Houston, displacing 30,000 and killing at least 30. 

The long-term impacts of Hurricane Harvey are still to be determined. 

It’s been estimated that only one in six of the 800,000 occupied housing units in Houston have flood insurance, which could create an imminent housing crisis for the city’s most vulnerable residents. 

“Most people who lose homes or have them damaged in Harvey won’t have money to replace or repair them,” the Atlantic wrote.  

Furthermore, the National Flood Insurance Program expires in September and is in danger of itself collapsing

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In the wake of a storm of this size, public health risks also abound, the Washington Post has reported

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This includes the incidence of West Nile Virus increasing in the long-term as mosquitos breed and multiply in the stagnant water; post-traumatic stress disorder and depression; and mold exposure that can exacerbate allergic reactions.

Global Citizen campaigns on public health, including pandemic preparedness. You can take action here

DiCaprio’s donation to United Way should remind us that although disasters last just a few days or weeks, the long-term impacts can be just as bad, and sometimes worse. You can donate to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund here


Defend the Planet

Leonardo DiCaprio Just Gave $1 Million to Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

By Phineas Rueckert