The “Hurricane Matthew: How Donors Can Help” webinar on Oct. 11, 2016, addressed immediate response and relief needs after the decade’s most powerful Atlantic tropical storm ravaged Haiti, slammed Cuba and the Bahamas, and inundated the Southeast U.S.

Hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) with generous support from the UPS Foundation, the webinar was moderated by CDP President and CEO Bob Ottenhoff and included speakers Dr. Anne Peterson, MD, MPH, Americares; Joe Ruiz, Director of the UPS Foundation’s Humanitarian Relief Program; Sherry P. Magill, President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and CDP Vice President Regine Webster.

Watch the webinar recording and review the summary below to learn more about recovery challenges and opportunities.

Webinar Summary

Here are actions donors can take, the current situation, and the status of relief efforts in Hurricane Matthew-affected areas in Haiti and the U.S.

How Can Donors Help

Whether donors are looking to support immediate relief or long-term recovery, monetary donations were recommended as the most impactful approach to procuring services and supplies and helping local economies. A couple of specific areas for donations include food, water, housing, and long-term infrastructure needs. Support for legal aid was suggested to help victims secure assistance and understand the FEMA disaster declaration process.

Give Locally
Donors are encouraged to fund organizations that are well-established in the impacted areas. For example, since shipping to Haiti is very difficult, only those organizations that have experience navigating specific custom challenges there should be trusted. So it is important to work with NGOs who are actively operating in country. Resources for researching these organizations include: CDP, the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), InterAction, and National VOAD.

Advance Your Values
Support areas that are important to you and align with your organization’s values and mission. Whether you are interested in technology, health, environment, or vulnerable populations, you should look for organizations whose activities advance your internal expertise.

Budget for the Long-Term
It is important to budget for immediate needs and long-term recovery since it will take years to rebuild from Matthew’s impact. Responding organizations won’t know the full scope of needs in the Caribbean and domestically for weeks or even months. For example, it may eventually become evident that there’s a need for disaster case management, childcare, or mental health services. Longer-term funding also give NGOs the resources to commit to advance planning, assessment, and rebuilding efforts that help communities become more resilient.

Donate Responsibly
To refrain from cleaning out closets, check with CIDI and Good360 on what and where to donate goods or products.

It is important to remember that as disaster philanthropists, we shouldn’t turn away from yesterday’s disasters with each new event. Matthew hits on heels of historic flooding in Louisiana, Texas, the Midwest, and West Virginia; Haiti was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake. Though it seems we have an increasingly short memory for these events—and the media in particular is quick to move on—we have to help focus attention on the long, arduous task of rebuilding our communities.

Please see our Hurricane Matthew profile for updated disaster information, NGO response, and funder activity.

Current Situation

There are several communities where 90-100 percent of the homes were destroyed or are not livable and there are thousands of people without food, water, and shelter. Many clinics were devastated and medical equipment, supplies, clean water, and food are scarce. Basic, safe storage is a concern for supplies and security is also an issue since people are desperate, some having gone without any assistance, food, and clean water for a week now.

Cholera and other water-born diseases are a serious concern. Cholera moves and kills quickly (in only hours if untreated) and there have already been deaths in Matthew-impacted areas. Immediate trauma care is critical to prevent infections, but there are also chronic and other ongoing health challenges that need to be addressed. Though there are some hospitals that are still standing, other areas will require tent clinics and mobile sites, especially as there are more cholera cases.

Though it is possible to get supplies to Haiti, in-country distribution is challenging as some roads are just opening up. There are communities that haven’t had any food or water brought to them since the hurricane hit. Americares and the World Food Programme (WFP) are getting some distributions out by helicopter and truck, but it is still difficult and the logistics have been very challenging. It is critical important to make sure that distribution is equitable, and that responders are on the ground to help vulnerable populations—women, children, and the elderly—receive aid as well as those who are more able.

Southeast U.S.
Though Matthew has moved out into the Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts that it is likely to produce destructive impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, and heavy rains along the northeast coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina through Saturday. There is significant flash flooding in the Eastern Carolinas and across the region, with a focus on I-95 corridor. River crests are expected into next week and flash floods and river flooding are of grave concern.

Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina remain in effect. Eighteen counties in total are under a mandatory evacuation. Large power outages are still affecting almost one million in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. A large portion of North Carolina is under a water boil advisory.

Meeting Immediate Needs

With a long history of working in Haiti, Americares is leveraging local partnerships and coordinating logistics with other organizations as part of a more effective response plan. In Les Cayes, one of the most devastated areas, Americares is working with the Hope for Haiti clinic. Plans are in place to deliver approximately $1.6 million in aid, which will include intravenous fluids to treat cholera and medical supplies to treat storm-related injuries. Long-term, Americares will work on building the capacity of the local health systems and also provide psychosocial support for both disaster responders and victims.

The UPS Foundation is working closely with a local logistics cluster including the WFP, Airlink, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and other UN organizations. The Salvation Army Haiti has assisted with warehouse space in Haiti. Three million high-energy biscuits along with thirty metric tons of water purifications tablets will be delivered to Haiti this week. The UPS Foundation is working to source supplies within Haiti for faster and more economical procurement and delivery along with local capacity building.

Southeast U.S.
The President has declared that a state of emergency exists in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina—and he has ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts. Millions of commodities and resources are being sent to Matthew-affected areas including meals, water, and blankets.

The FEMA National Response Coordination Center has been operating 24/7 and has deployed officials to Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. These IMATs augment existing state capabilities to jointly coordinate Federal and state assistance, commodities, and supplies to impacted communities. FEMA has deployed 13 Task Forces for Search and Rescue capabilities to Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The U.S. Department of Energy is coordinating with state energy officials, electric industry on power restoration efforts, coordination with the Electricity Sub-sector Coordinating Council, and the oil and natural gas industry through the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deployed four Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, two National Veterinary Response Teams, and a 60-person Rapid Deployment Force to Alabama for medical assistance to states. The U.S. Department of Defense has mobilized hundreds of thousands of fuel and hundreds of generators to support power outages and fuel needs.

The UPS Foundation is providing in-kind transport to move shelter supplies and working with the Salvation Army to transport ice to areas impacted by power outages. Additionally, they are working with Airlink to provide transportation assistance.

Americares is focused on the health side and helping those impacted by Matthew have access to medication, free care, and mental health services. Along with ongoing support for their 950-plus free health clinics, Americares is reconnecting evacuees with life-saving medications and addressing mental health needs. They are also involved in preparedness programs that helped local organizations better address this disaster.