FLORIDA - Blessings were being counted on Monday morning, that in some respects at least, Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida was not as great as was feared. On the other hand, the storm was being rated as a “monster” and “historic” which still had profound affects on communities and lives across much of the Sunshine State. The full toll was yet to be counted.
Coming within two weeks of the wrath of Hurricane Harvey on coastal Texas and part of Louisiana, anxiety surrounding Irma was all the more acute.
It is no doubt for those living in northeast Pennsylvania, including Wayne and Pike counties, that the weather disaster in Florida hit much closer to home, with the great many family connections between them. As the hurricane played out on TV and computer this past weekend, those with loved ones hunkered down in Irma’s path, and those wondering about their winter home and neighbors, monitored the developments with heightened concern.
Send your report
The News Eagle welcomes your reports. How did the hurricanes (either Irma or Harvey) affect you? Were you there at the time? How did your families and properties fare? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or the writer at 570-226-4547 ext. 107. An update will be published on the personal impact of these events.
Meanwhile, news of organizations, businesses, families and individuals gathering help for the victims is welcome. Send us your reports as well.
Donations for hurricane relief may be sent to any reputable organization dedicated to getting help to those in need.
The Salvation Army is one option. Donate for hurricane relief by mail at The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1959, Atlanta GA 30301; designated “Hurricane 2017” on your check. Donate by phone by calling 1-800-725-2769 or visit online at give.salvationarmyusa.org.
Another organization is the American Red Cross. David Skutnik, Regional Director of Communications for Eastern PA, answered a series of questions:
Q. With two hurricane events, how can donors be specific if they wish to send funds to help Harvey or Irma victims? How can they designate which?
A. The fastest way to get help to the people who need it is with a financial contribution. People can visit redcross.org and choose either Harvey relief or Irma relief to ensure that their donation goes to that particular disaster. The same designation can be made by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Due to high call volume, there may be a bit of a wait time. Or, people can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 towards Harvey relief in Texas or text IRMA to 90999 to donate $10 to Irma relief in Florida and the Southeast.
Q. How has the response from the Poconos been so far?
A. The response from the Pocono community has been amazing. The phones are ringing off the hook with people that want to know how they can help. Many people have stopped in to our Stroudsburg office (410 Park Ave, Stroudsburg) to make an in-person financial contribution as well. We are grateful for any help people can provide.
Q. Do these two events create a strain on Red Cross resources?
A. While we have a number of Pocono area volunteers and equipment in both Texas and the Southeast, we purposely leave behind enough resources to deal with any local disasters that may occur.
Q. Are there volunteers from the Poconos preparing to head to Florida?
A. We currently have two volunteers from the Poconos in the Southeast helping with Irma. More could be going in the days and/or weeks ahead depending on the size and scope of the damage.
Q. If anyone has trouble reaching or finding a loved one in the hurricane's path, can the Red Cross assist?
A. The Red Cross encourages anyone in the path of a storm to register on our “Safe and Well” website so that family and friends can keep up with their status without using valuable cell phone battery power or if no other means of communication are available.
Q. Is there any other ways people can assist, other than a donation? Can they volunteer in some way? Are there any drop-off sites people may bring supplies for loading onto trucks?
A. The Red Cross encourages everyone to sign up to be a volunteer. Unfortunately the next major disaster isn’t a matter of if, but when. The Red Cross provides training to all volunteers so that the next time a disaster happens elsewhere or here at home, you are ready to help. Visit redcross.org to sign up to be a volunteer or call Heather Bowman at 570-476-3800.
Q. What of people who want to collect supplies? Does the Red Cross accept them? Is there a place people can go to bring them, and if so, what items are needed?
A. We know Americans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.
It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. In contrast, financial donations can be accessed quickly to support those affected, and be put to use right away. With a financial donation, individuals can buy what they need and want.
Q. Where can people mail the Red Cross, a check?
A. Payable to:
American Red Cross
410 Park Avenue
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
Please write “Harvey” or “Irma” in the memo line depending on which disaster your donation is for, or you can write “Disaster Relief” and the donation will be used wherever it is needed most.
Q. Can you tell me what percentage of financial donations is used for administration?
A. We work to keep our management, general and fundraising expenses low so that on average 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to our programs and services. Donations are used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.
Q. How can one pick an agency to send a donation?
A. This is a team effort. Massive disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma create more needs than any one organization can handle. It takes all types of aid agencies to provide disaster relief and recovery services. Some organizations—like the Red Cross—are able to help shelter tens of thousands of people because of our size and scale. Other aid agencies are best suited to focus more on individual needs in specific areas. We work with various non-profits—large and small—during disasters to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure that gaps are filled. We encourage people to donate to the charity of their choice—but please donate because the need is great.