Families along the South coast of the United States are bracing for Hurricane Irma. At time of writing, this unprecedented storm seems likely to make landfall in Southern Florida. Hurricane Irma’s impact is likely to extend to the Carolinas and Georgia – and beyond.
People who are preparing to evacuate from the coastal United States are taken up with finding and bundling the bare and absolute necessities – passports, social security cards, and more. Go bags are hastily assembled.
But the vast majority of their belongings must be left behind.
For family and friends at a loss for what to do, there are ways to anticipate needs and to respond effectively.
Most digital gift cards can be read on an iPhone or a similar device. As such, they can be emailed and are immediately redeemable. These suggestions are intended to be helpful to those who are evacuated or who are in the process of finding shelter.
If you are concerned about a family impacted by Hurricane Irma, here are a few things you can do.
Be aware that many gas stations are running out of gas. Helping people to offset costs may include helping them to identify alternative modes of transportation, ride-sharing, and more. (Note that as the storm approaches, these options may become increasingly scarce so consider whether this is a viable option prior to spending the money).
- Begin contacting (by text or Facebook messenger) friends and family. Do this now, and offer to relay information to other loved ones. Ask specifically whether they know where they are going. Some may be able to stay with a friend or a family member. If they have a temporary physical address, make sure to note it. After the storm has subsided check to see whether deliveries in this area have been impacted. If they are in an area where deliveries are possible, consider sending an Amazon gift card or an Amazon Prime membership so that diapers and other necessities can be shipped. Remember that people have been forced to leave many possessions at home.
- For people who are not sure where they will be located, you can still provide them with some necessary items with the help of digital gift cards. Some people may need assistance with hotels, restaurants, and mobile apps for children. Food on-the-go adds up. Providing access to chain restaurants for family dining is useful for those on the move.
- The situation on the ground will continue to evolve. Stay in touch with loved ones and invite them to notify you of anything they need, and notify others wanting to help of what is most needed.
- Gift cards at stores like Target can be used for prescriptions. This enables people to stay current with necessary medication and stock up on over the counter necessities. Talk to a pharmacist or medical professional about how to ensure that prescriptions that may need to be filled earlier can be – without adverse effect on people living on a fixed income. Take a look at GoodRx which offers access to competitive pricing and value.
- Evacuees may have pets with them and may need additional funds for their care. Consider providing additional pet care when evacuees have found temporary housing. Help find boarding for beloved animals.
- Car travel will likely involve extensive delays in heavy traffic. Hotels and shelters may be fully booked. Cash machines may not be operational.
- Know that families facing mandatory evacuation will be safe. However, they will face some logistical challenges in the short term. This is where friends and family can be the most responsive and helpful.
Needs change after an evacuation has been lifted and people can return to their homes. Check back with Give InKind to see what products are most necessary after the storm.
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