What to Give When Disaster Strikes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released an updated hurricane season prediction which indicated a 60 percent chance for an above-normal season, with the likelihood of 14 to 19 named storms, including two to five major hurricanes.

So far, the Atlantic has seen six tropical storms and two hurricanes. These storms have brought heavy winds and rain, but haven't caused significant damage. The hurricane center announced on Sunday, August 20 that they are tracking two systems currently forming in the Atlantic.

As we move towards the peak of hurricane season and begin to see heavy storm activity, Planet Aid wants to remind donors to give wisely when there is an emergency.

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As described in a CBS Sunday Morning report, "When Disaster Relief Brings Anything But Relief," Americans are kind and generous and want to help those in need. However, donations during disasters can overwhelm emergency responders and hamper rather than help relief efforts. The problem is that many of the items that people donate aren't needed and the organizations trying to meet the needs of those impacted are weighed down by tons of unnecessary goods.

Donating an article of clothing to help another in need is a kind and beautiful gesture. However, even after a disaster, clothing is rarely in short supply. The reality is that there is an incredible excess of unwanted clothing in the United States. That is why so much of it ends up in landfills. It is also why Planet Aid works hard to provide a solution that works, one that helps the environment while also effectively delivering support to those in need.

For example, during the Hurricane Sandy relief operation, Planet Aid donated to help those in need and coordinated with relief organizations on meeting local needs. But instead of clothing, we were called on to donate water, which we delivered by the truckload to places where people's drinking supplies had been contaminated or otherwise didn't function.

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Planet Aid also received calls from relief organizations to help them remove clothing donations. We removed tons of textiles that they received that they could never use. Lacking other storage options, one organization filled a nearby empty swimming pool with unwanted donations.

The hope is that none of the predicted storms makes landfall, but if they do remember to give smartly.