Best of the Web

Supporting Storm/Disaster Relief + Best of the Web

by Grace Bonney

My mind can hardly wrap itself around the catastrophic photos coming out of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominica and all of the islands affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Seeing families searching for loved ones in Mexico City after the earthquake and watching as our friends at The Sato Project (where our dogs Hope and Winky were rescued) desperately try to support those at their home base in Yabucoa, PR has been heartbreaking, to say the very least. So as we head into the weekend, the only thing on my mind is: how can we help? Rather than our typical wrap-up and links out to other sites this week, this post is dedicated to ways you can support those trying to rebuild, from Houston to Mexico City to the Caribbean.

If you know of any other organizations doing great work, please feel free to share them below. We will continue to look for ways to help and give back individually and as a company here at Design*Sponge, so stay tuned for more updates as electricity and connections resume in these areas and direct calls for support start to be shared. Our hearts are with everyone affected by these horrifying natural disasters.

*Artwork above by Grace D. Chin, author of last week’s essay about Artists and Social/Political Responsibility


The Caribbean 


  • Houston is struggling to rebuild and there are many organizations still in need of funds, supplies and basic personal goods. Here are a few lists to get started.
  • This piece at The Atlantic and this piece at PBS address how undocumented immigrants are struggling to rebuild without the access and support others have. Catholic Charities is doing a lot of great work to support this community in Houston.

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  • Thank you for this list. It is much better to give to established aid groups (those that already have a presence in the affected area and are coordinating with local governments and first responders to get what is needed to those that need it) than to try to do it on your own.

    Although I understand and appreciate the sentiment behind donations of items to help those whose lives have been destroyed by disasters — not all donations are appropriate. Only give items if they are specifically asked for by aid groups.

    Please don’t ‘donate’ your unwanted trash or inappropriate items:
    — a local church recently held a drive to take goods to Houston, among the items that people dropped off were a couch with a huge blood stain, used underwear, and a coffee table missing a leg. (The church went through everything and only took items in good repair and had to take the rest to the dump.);
    — a t.v. network told of ballgowns and high heels being trucked to an earthquake ravaged area;
    — and a local group is making quilts to send to Florida (bless them, but people in a nursing home actually died from the heat).

    Additionally, an on-the-ground aid group sent out the message that they can get fresh water to people for a fraction of the cost and time of someone far away collecting water and delivering it themselves. And the local aid groups can coordinate deliveries with the local governments and first responders so they aren’t clogging up the few accessible roadways.

    Personally, I give money to established aid groups and a little to groups that are helping to save peoples’ pets. A big lesson learned from Katrina is that people will not go to shelters if they are not allowed to take their pets. I was glad to hear that many of the shelters now have areas for people who bring pets.

  • Humane Society International — the global arm of Humane Society of the US — has its disaster relief team on the ground from Florida to Puerto Rico, Mexico and other recently decimated areas. HSI coordinates local volunteers to work alongside their experienced emergency responders and veterinarians, provides emergency shelter for animals, arranges transport and permanent re-homing for unclaimed animals and underwrites efforts in the millions of dollars, all from private donations and grants.

    I’ve know the President of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, for decades, since we worked together as young animal advocates. At the helm of HSUS since 2004, Wayne has made monumental positive change for animals. Right now the HSUS/HSI focus is on rescue and relief. More here, and a link to make a tax-deductible donation: https://hsi.netdonor.net/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=104&ea.campaign.id=16153

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