|Help Hurricane Irene|
On behalf of Ecobites our hearts and support go out to all those effected by the current tragedy. Their have been many lives lost and the damage is mind boggling. From the Carolinas to Maine, tens of millions of people were in the path of Irene, which howled ashore in North Carolina on Saturday, dumping torrential rain, falling trees and knocking out power.
Although floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Irene began to recede on Monday in parts, hundreds of people remained trapped in communities which were cut off by raging floodwaters. It is still unclear how many are stranded.
Governor Peter Shumlin said: 'It's just devastating. Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure. We've lost farmers' crops. We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard.
For Ecobiters who are thinking of giving their assistance to the appeals that are currently on we urge you to do so. The scope of assistance that will be necessary cannot be underestimated. And while giving is good, beware of those out there who are not good and are trying to scam you by taking your money over the Internet and using e-mail.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued an alert about fraudulent emails and websites claiming to be collecting donations for Hurricane Irene relief efforts.
The Federal Trade Commission"cautions that scammers may try to take advantage of a disaster, and so consumers should be wary of urgent appeals for charitable donations, and watch out for fraudulent home repair schemes after a storm." You can read more about avoiding home repair rip-offs and charity fraud from the FTC.
Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities.
The FBI, on its Facebook page, reminds folks "to beware of fraudulent e-mails and websites claiming to conduct charitable relief efforts. Disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause," and suggests reading "Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes" to learn more about avoiding online fraud.
Denise Maxwell, executive director of the local ARC chapter, said the best way for people here to help in the wake of Hurricane Irene is by making donations to Red Cross Disaster Relief. The fund supports the agency’s work in response to disasters like hurricanes and floods, as well as countless crises at home and around the world.
People also can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation with their mobile phone.
All the donations are put to good use, Maxwell said.
“Those donations go for food and blankets and even clean-up kits,” she said.
The ARC wants people to know that 91 cents of every dollar donated is used to support disaster victims. Any donation, large or small, helps.
For example, $3 can provide a comfort kit containing personal hygiene items for someone in a disaster; $6 can cover the cost of a blanket and $10 is the cost of a hot meal. A $50 donation can cover the cost of food and shelter for a day, including three meals, blankets, comfort kits and the Red Cross expense of volunteers to the disaster area. For $150, someone’s donation can cover the cost of providing food and shelter to a family of four for a day they spend in a shelter.
“When people donate we can get the money there so much faster, and our buying power is so great,” Maxwell said. “We can take that dollar and do so much with it.”
Maxwell encouraged clubs, churches and other groups to work with the ARC.
“In times like these people want to help, they want to make a difference,” she said.
The ARC opened nearly 500 shelters along the coast and have deployed thousands of trained disaster workers. More than 250 feeding vehicles have moved into neighborhoods to distribute meals and relief supplies to affected areas.
The cost associated with the response to Hurricane Irene is still unknown. However, on average the Red Cross spends about $450 million on disaster relief throughout the United States and around the world. This includes providing shelter, feeding and distributing relief supplies for the approximately 70,000 disasters we respond to every year. Major disasters like Hurricane Irene add to this amount.
“Now is also a good time for people who have an interest in becoming volunteers to contact us,” Maxwell said. “We can get them started on the necessary training.”
The Salvation Army served 19,000 people in the areas impacted by the storm. Thousands across eastern North Carolina are being fed and cared for at shelters by Salvation Army feeding teams.
In the Northeast, Salvation Army officers and emergency disaster canteens crews continue to serve those affected in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The Salvation Army is equipped to serve 2,500 people a day through five canteens which provide food and beverages.
In total, The Salvation Army has 370 mobile feeding units and five mobile kitchens up and down the East coast, serving those in need.
Text the word"STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone. Or, donate online or by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
The Humane Society of the United States is on Twitter, as well, with up-to-date info on pet and animal assistance, including shelters that are available in areas affected by Irene. You can donate by visiting the society's website.
Habitat for Humanity, helps rebuild homes.
Feeding America is seeking volunteers to work in food banks.
Operation Blessing provides disaster relief, food, water and medical supplies, and is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
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