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    How to help: Donate to assist Hurricane Harvey, Irma victims

    By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer

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    The catastrophic rampages of Hurricane Harvey and Irma have left many displaced and in need. Organizations are on the ground helping victims, it is never too late for your help.

    All donations made via AccuWeather.com will go to United Way to help hurricane victims and the affected outlying areas.

    Harvey/Irma Donation Banner

    Click the image above to make a donation to the United Way in order to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

    If you would like to help those affected by the hurricanes, here's what you should keep in mind.

    Stay clear of the affected areas

    It is dangerous to go to the site even in the immediate aftermath. People rushing to the site can cause problems. Interstates can get clogged with more traffic, gasoline supplies could be diminished and emergency personnel can be hindered from properly responding.

    APTOPIX Dominican Republic Hurricane Irma

    A home is surrounded by debris brought in by Hurricane Irma in Nagua, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Irma flooded parts of the Dominican Republic when it roared by Thursday, just off the northern coast of the island it shares with Haiti. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

    Instead, find a way to donate money that could provide a shelter or a relief supply kit.

    Monetary donation

    Food, clothing and supplies might be the first thing people think to donate; however, cash donations are the best. When items are donated, volunteers have to divert their attention to separating, distributing and storing.

    “Monetary donations are the most flexible and can be used immediately in response to a crisis,” Divisional Communications Director of the Salvation Army Dulcinea Kimrey said.

    It allows the organization to purchase exactly what is needed, when it is needed, Kimrey said.

    “Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost,” Kimrey said.

    Make sure to send money to a reputable charity. Check if the charity is trustworthy by visiting Charity Navigator, which uses a team of professional analysts to examine tens of thousands of charities.

    Consider donating to these organizations to help hurricane victims:
    United Way
    Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response team
    SPCA of Texas
    The Humane Society of the United States' Disaster Relief Fund
    Animal Defense League of Texas
    Austin Pets Alive
    The American Red Cross
    Feeding Texas
    Houston Food Bank
    Galveston Food Bank
    Corpus Christi Food Bank
    Coalition for the Homeless of Houston
    Go Fund Me
    Texas Diaper Bank
    Star of Hope Mission
    Hope for Haiti
    Direct Relief
    Samaritan’s Purse

    "One America Appeal is a joint appeal by all five living former American Presidents to encourage their fellow citizens to support recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey — which inundated the Texas Gulf Coast with unprecedented flooding. This special appeal will be expanded to include Hurricane Irma now approaching the mainland United States," the One America Appeal website reads.

    "Hurricane Harvey brought terrible devastation – but it also brought out the best in humanity. As former Presidents, we wanted to come together and join our fellow citizens in supporting Houston and the communities along the Gulf Coast as they rebuild."

    Offer housing

    Airbnb, a popular online housing app, has a disaster response program. It allows people to find a house or a room during or after a disaster like Harvey. The urgent accommodations tool allows users to offer their nearby homes for displaced victims.

    Donate now to the United Way to help victims of Harvey and Irma
    Hurricane Irma leaves the Caribbean islands in devastation
    Irma batters Florida with catastrophic storm surge, wind and rain

    This allows victims who may have been forced out of their home a nice, safe place to rest.


    Volunteers serving hot meal to people at soup kitchen

    Volunteers serving hot meals to people at soup kitchen. (asiseeit/Getty Images)

    To make operations run smoothly, make sure to have training or register to be a volunteer. Manual labor is not the only support needed. Volunteers are able to help with communications, medical, office, human services, damage assessment and labor support.

    Give blood

    During emergencies and disaster situations, the blood supply might run low due to the increased quantity needed. Donating blood helps to save lives in the emergency room.

    Phlebotomist checking line whle patient donates blood in hospital

    Phlebotomist checking line while a patient donates blood in hospital. (asiseeit/Getty Images)

    The Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood or platelets to help ensure life-saving blood products are available for trauma patients and others with serious medical needs.

    “It’s the blood products on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency,” said Trish Sablitz, Red Cross director of Donor Recruitment for the Connecticut & Massachusetts Blood Services Region. “When seconds matter, having a readily-available blood supply is critical to trauma patient care.”

    Recovery lasts longer than a few days, and disaster areas can take years to recover fully. If donations run out within the first few days, volunteers no longer have the resources and funds to help.

    For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.

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