Hurricane Patricia: What Is A Funder To Do?

I currently live in Tennessee, but I have lived in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Pasadena, Boston, Australia, Argentina, and a few other places. When people ask where I am from, I emphatically say Arizona. I like blue skies, mountains, and a close proximity to Northern Mexico. The Gulf of California, Sonora, and Mexico country-wide, have held a special place in my heart since I was five years old.
That same place in my heart is gripped tight by the current pending landing of Hurricane Patricia. My fingers and eyes are bouncing back between news, weather, and disaster tracking sites to find out where the hurricane is in its trajectory, what the current wind speed is, and where will the massive Category 5 storm trajectory take us.
The funder side of me sets my heart strings over on the side and kicks into action. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has been tracking the storm since it unexpectedly increased in intensity. We are conducting outreach to funders who will either be affected or called to respond to the disaster; we are in close connection with the Council on Foundations, and we are planning a webinar for 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 (more to come on this during the next 24 hours).
In the meantime though, before Hurricane Patricia hits, before we know what “damage” looks like, here are a few thoughts of what a funder can do:

  • Reach out to your current grantees who might live or work in Mexico or Texas, who support Mexican-American migrant or immigrant communities (who will be worried sick about loved ones back home), or those in Texas who have recently suffered flood damage.
  • Call the Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hotline – 206.972.0187. We are here to answer questions, to brainstorm how to strategically allocate grant dollars.
  • Prepare for and pretend that the marathon starts tomorrow – we know that hurricanes can inflict incredible damage once they make landfall. Wind, rain, flood surges, huge waves all result in power outages (potentially massive), home and business destruction, damage to water treatment systems, and potential loss of life. The extent of the damage, while still unknown, will most assuredly take years, if not decades to recover from. As a funder, I urge you to consider supporting the full lifecycle of a disaster.

We will all know more about the Hurricane’s landfall in a few short hours. I am hopeful that some stroke of meteorological luck will turn this potentially bad situation on its head so that residents of Mexico and Texas can breathe a sigh of relief. If that luck does not hold, the need for philanthropic support will be huge. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy will be working diligently to ensure that vulnerable Hurricane-affected populations are well tended for by private philanthropy.

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