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How You Can Help Disaster Survivors

PHOTO: Hurricane Michael ripped through Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and the surrounding area leaving severe damage through its path. The storm sustained winds up to 150 mph, which significantly damaged every structure throughout the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

FEMA issued the following helpful information about how we can best assist recent disaster survivors and communities.

Intergovernmental Affairs Advisory
How You Can Help Disaster Survivors
October 12, 2018

In the wake of a disaster, Americans have always come together with compassion and courage to ask how they can help survivors of catastrophic events like Hurricane Michael. There are many ways that you can help survivors and ensure that an individual contribution – whether financial donation or personal time – is carried out responsibly.

The fastest way to help – cash is best

“Don’t send stuff, send money,” said Kevin Smith, director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. “The best way to help survivors is to donate time and money to trusted organizations.”

The most effective means to support recovery of communities affected by hurricanes and tropical storms is to donate money to trusted voluntary, faith, and community-based charitable organizations. This gives these organizations the ability to purchase what survivors need right now. In addition, when these organizations purchase goods or services locally, they pump money back into the local and regional economy, helping businesses recover faster.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) includes trusted organizations receiving donations, many of which are already coordinating relief and response efforts in the impacted areas. If you need help in determining who to give to, visit the National VOAD website, www.nvoad.org, which includes a list of major non-profits active in disaster work.


Anyone seeking an opportunity to get involved in response and recovery operations underway is encouraged to volunteer with local and nationally recognized organizations. A list of volunteer websites is available at www.nvoad.org.

Florida and Georgia ask that volunteers not self-deploy, as unexpected arrival in affected communities creates an additional burden for first responders.

To register as an affiliated volunteer with a voluntary or charitable organization, visit the National VOAD for a list of partners active in disaster.

Impacted states have also started coordinating donations and volunteer efforts directly. For more information on their efforts, visit:


Florida asks that people consider donating to the Florida Disaster Fund by visiting www.FloridaDisasterFund.org, or texting DISASTER to 20222 to make a one-time donation of $10.

Those interested in volunteering, or looking for more ways to donate can visit www.volunteerflorida.org.


Georgia reminds those looking to help that cash donations are the most effective way to provide assistance to those in need. Find a list of trusted voluntary organizations in Georgia at https://gavoad.communityos.org.

If you would like to volunteer, do not self-deploy. Visit the Georgia volunteer registration page on NVOAD’s site or contact an organization directly to offer your service.

Georgia invites statewide nonprofit disaster relief organizations to join Georgia VOAD. Email gastatevoad@gmail.com with a description of your services.

However you choose to give, please be patient. Recovery lasts much longer than media attention. Recovery needs will continue for many months, often many years, after the disaster. Your support is always appreciated.

Additional Resources

For more information on Hurricane Michael, please visit www.fema.gov/hurricane-michael.  

If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division at 202-646-3444 or FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.

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