8 Ways to Help People of Color Recover From Hurricane Irma

By Ayana Byrd Sep 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma, The Washington Post declared, "was everywhere."

Though the newspaper meant everywhere in Florida, the broader proclaimation feels true when you consider that for nearly one week, since September 5, the powerful storm has dominated global news, bringing sustained winds as high as 185 mph and catastrophic storm surges to islands throughout the Caribbean and the states of Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

As millions recover, there will be stark differences in how different communities are able to access necessary financial resources. Here, a list of organizations focused on bringing help to communities of color and groups who may face socioeconomic challenges after Irma.

Organizations Helping Communities in Florida
Hurricane Irma Community Recovery Fund is an umbrella organization focused on supporting grassroots Florida-based organizations helping communities to rebuild. According to the fund, there are three million Floridians living in poverty, as well as an estimated 850,000 undocumented immigrants who may fear accessing government resources. Donations are funneled to partner organizations including Dream Defenders, Central Florida Jobs for Justice and Make the Homeless Smile, to give them much needed resources. Donate here.

The Hurricane Irma Solidarity Network was created by Miami-based organizer Brittany Williams and works in partnership with Black Alliance for Just ImmigrationMillion Hoodies Movement for JusticeSafety Pin Box and Coalition to Support Racial Justice Organizing to raise money that goes directly to Black women in South Florida—and especially the South Miami Dade area—for long-term needs including home repairs and rent. As stated on the network’s website, “The South Miami Dade area is considered the rural part of Miami and is often overlooked by mainstream media, however it has always suffered the most and been hit the hardest by hurricanes. The South Miami Dade area is made up of Black, immigrant and migrant people who are the most vulnerable.” 

Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies provides disaster recovery efforts for people with disabilities impacted by Irma, through direct rescues, the creation of a hotline to assist in locating services and other efforts.

In the immediate post-Harvey recovery, numerous images emerged of pets and other animals in the flood water. Humane Society of Tampa Bay is one group dedicated to keeping animals safe from Irma by working with devastated shelters from across the state to take in other animals.  Donations go to their various life-saving services (from food to medical care) to keep animals without homes from being put down.

Organizations Helping Communities in Puerto Rico
Just two days before Irma skirted Puerto Rico, Iniciativa Comunitaria, a 25-year-old organization focused on community uplift whose motto translates to “we are a big hug,” opened a shelter on the island to take in displaced people. It is also working to offer support for those left without homes after the storm. Donate items or money here

Con PR Metidos is a millennial-led organization that builds partnerships between private and public organizations to strengthen Puerto Rico’s economic development. In the aftermath of Irma, which left more than one million without electricity and killed at least three people on the island, it is attempting to raise $150,000 for relief and recovery efforts.

Organizations Helping Communities in The U.S. Virgin Islands
Irma hit the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday, leaving four dead and the islands of St. Thomas and St. John “not safe” as of Sunday, according to Gov. Kenneth Mapp. Former San Antonio Spurs basketball star Tim Duncan grew up on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and he has set up the 21 U.S. Virgin Island Relief Fund. “I will match your financial donations up to the first $1 million. I’ve just started things off with my initial $250,000 contribution,” he wrote in an essay published Saturday (September 9) on The Players’ Tribune. He also wrote about his love of the island and memories of the territory’s struggles to recover from past hurricanes. Make a contribution here.

Organizations Helping Communities in Barbuda
The American University of Antigua (AUA) started the Barbuda Relief Fund to provide emergency supplies like food, water and medicine, as well as long-term recovery assistance for the island of 1,800 residents. According to the prime minister, 95 percent of homes in Barbuda are now uninhabitable. All donations will be matched by AUA.