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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Friday, August 17, 2018

3 Unexpected Needs Following a Disaster


At Charity Navigator, we aim to provide you with the giving tips you need to make confident donations in any situation, including the immediate wake of a disaster. Last year, following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria thousands of donors, like you, turned to us for a list of highly-rated charities providing relief and support on the ground. We were blown away by the generosity and quick response of so many people seeking to help their neighbors.

Through our Giving Basket, we directed relief funds to effective organizations known to be working on the ground. Those organizations turned much of that funding into immediate relief: meals, medicine, hygiene kits, pet supplies, tools and construction materials. Those items are critical, but they only address short-term needs. Recovery following a disaster can take many months, or even years and the long-term needs change over time. Keep reading to see three unexpected long-term needs following a disaster.



Affordable Housing

We know that disasters cost people their homes. We’ve seen footage of homes being flooded by hurricanes, flattened by tornadoes, collapsed by earthquakes, burned by wildfires, and swept away by mudslides. We’ve also seen images of relief organizations rushing in with cots and tents to house people while the damage to their homes is being assessed.

What we often don’t see is what life looks like 12 months after the disaster has hit, the flood waters have receded, the debris has been cleared, and the cots and tents have been packed up. Some people will be able to return to their homes. Minimal damage can be repaired quickly, and doesn’t require big insurance payouts. 

But, what about those whose homes suffered greater damage? Or those who need the insurance payout to afford the repairs? Or those who may have lost their job because of infrastructure damage after the disaster?

For this latter group, access to affordable housing is absolutely critical in the months and years following a disaster. Consider supporting an organization that helps individuals and families in the affected area find stable housing as they work to repair their home or build a new one, and get back on their feet.

Counseling & Psychological Services

So many disasters happen without warning. And, even with a warning, individuals cannot fully prepare for the destruction and aftermath. 

In the months following a disaster, many organizations report a growing need for counseling and psychological services to help those affected cope with the loss and trauma of what they’ve lived through. Consider supporting an organization providing mental health services in the affected area.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding. We know it needs to be done, but once the news crews leave it seems to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Like the need for affordable housing, it’s easy to believe the need has been addressed one the flood waters have receded and the debris has been cleared. But rebuilding is a much longer process. It encompasses restoring or replacing everything that was damaged so the affected area can go back to “normal.” It includes repairing or building new homes, fixing infrastructures like roads and power structures, and strengthening businesses that suffered damage.

Rebuilding doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many, many months or years. It’s why we encourage donors to check back in the charities they support, especially disaster response organizations. The debris can be cleared quickly, but helping restore areas and lives affected by a disaster back to “normal” takes much longer.

As we approach the one year anniversaries of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Charity Navigator is preparing disaster relief reports with the organizations donors on our site supported. You can view the Hurricane Harvey report here. Stay tuned for the Irma and Maria reports which will be released in coming weeks.

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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