After making landfall in Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma weakened to a tropical storm on Monday — but powerful winds and flooding are still hitting the Sunshine State in force.
Once the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, Irma created a path of death and destruction across the Caribbean last week as it headed to Florida. At least 24 people were killed as Irma hit the islands, where the hurricane destroyed countless homes and businesses. There have been no confirmed deaths in Florida as a result of Irma so far, according to the Associated Press.
About 4.5 million buildings are without power in Florida, and Irma has caused one of the largest evacuation efforts in U.S. history with 7 million people ordered to leave their homes, according to the AP.
In the Caribbean, islands like Barbuda and Saint Martin were hit hard by the powerful storm, which destroyed a large majority of buildings on the islands and left many without a home. In the Bahamas, eerie footage showed missing water on the shorelines after Irma sucked it up when it hit.
AccuWeather, a weather forecasting company, predicts Irma will cost the U.S. economy $260 billion alone. But with the mass destruction on islands, the total global cost of the storm will likely be higher.
For those who are watching the storm’s destruction unfold and want to help recovery efforts, here are some ideas:
“Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, is crossing the Caribbean. Oxfam is on the ground responding. Donate now to Oxfam’s Hurricane Irma Appeal to help us act fast and save lives,” Oxfam’s appeal states.
Other options of large organizations to donate to include Save The Children and SPCA International. Another option is to use websites such as CharityNavigator.org and GuideStar to find smaller community-led groups to support.
Thanks to crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe or YouCaring, it is easy to donate money directly to individuals affected by Hurricane Irma, for example St. Maarten residents Ben, Liz, and Maggie Zenger who have lost everything.
The National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is asking volunteers not to self-deploy, but for those interested in volunteering in Forida, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to register on its website.
“Just a friendly reminder to please BE PATIENT. You will be contacted once public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are,” a warning message on the website states.