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THE BEST WAY TO HELP VICTIMS OF SUPERSTORM SANDY

More than 1 million people in a dozen states were under orders to evacuate as Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States on Monday, October 29, 2012. The massive storm, with a wind field stretching from South Carolina to Canada, dropped just below hurricane status before going ashore in New Jersey. Damage from the storm has been extreme and wide-reaching.

President Barack Obama signed emergency declarations for Sandy relief efforts in several states, which make federal funding available to the people in these areas, to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

When Hurricane Sandy hit Haiti on October 24th, floods and landslides killed more than 50 people. Sandy's strong winds and torrential rain wreaked havoc on the makeshift shelters where more than 300,000 people still homeless from the 2010 earthquake continue to live, intensifying the cholera epidemic. The storm also brought extensive damage to Haiti's agricultural areas, leaving 1.5 million Haitians at risk for hunger.

In Cuba Sandy killed 11 people, damaged 200,000 homes, and severely damaged the country's crops. The Bahamas sustained hundreds of millions of dollars of damage from the storm.

Donors should find out what specific roles a charity has in the relief and recovery efforts. When people hear about the tens of billions of dollars in damages, they need to be aware that most of that will be paid for by government and private insurance. The role of charity is to cover what these larger players don't. Donors will not be funding infrastructure (road, sewer, transportation, etc...) but rather emergency shelters, food and water, first-aid, psychological trauma counseling, etc...

CharityWatch announces its top-rated list of charities involved in efforts to provide relief to victims of Superstorm Sandy, domestically and/or in the Caribbean. CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following charities, which are providing aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy, that receive an “A” or “B” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Contact the organizations below for information on specific relief operations now underway.
Note: Links will open in a new window

Top-rated charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency shelters, food and water, health care, psychological trauma counseling, etc...

Other giving options are local community groups that will be offering shelter and food services to those in need. People should check with local houses of worship and municipal government.

DONORS BEWARE
As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with relief efforts following Superstorm Sandy should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in need.

People need to be on guard concerning the surge of solicitations that arrive whenever a highly publicized crisis hits. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer. Only give to legitimate charities with a track record of being able to help people in need.

Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals that purport to need aid that post on Facebook, Craigslist, Indiegogo, etc... These are likely to be fraudsters, who may even be from another country and out of reach of our US regulatory system. Even if they are legitimate victims they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.

SEND A CHECK, NOT GOODS
The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed types of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after a tsunami in the Pacific, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami-stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent to these nations.

 
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