Hurricane Laura Relief: How to Donate and Help Victims of Devastating Storm

Hurricane Laura has seen over 580,000 coastal residents placed under evacuation orders, while nearly 470,000 homes and businesses were left without power, as the hurricane made landfall in Louisiana early Thursday.

Below are some ways to help those currently affected by Hurricane Laura.

Donate

The Louisiana Red Cross advised: "Want to help those affected by #HurricaneLaura? The safest & quickest way is through a financial donation, which will provide shelter, meals, relief supplies and more," in a post on its official Twitter account.

The donations can be made at the American Red Cross website (redcross.org/donate) or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting the word LAURA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

"Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance," the Red Cross noted on its website.

"Due to COVID-19, we are unable to accept donations of supplies, food, or other in-kind items. Unfortunately, if donated, these items will be disposed of to keep our shelters safe," the Louisiana Red Cross noted.

Volunteer

Sign up to be a volunteer at disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and Operation Blessing (OB).

Due to "an active hurricane and wildfire season and the complexities of COVID-19, the Red Cross will need thousands of volunteers to care for people when disasters strike," the American Red Cross stated.

"We will need volunteers to help support emergency shelters by staffing different areas including reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available," it added.

Those interested in volunteering can also attend a "virtual open house" being hosted on Facebook by the American Red Cross of Tennessee this Thursday at 4 p.m. local time. The virtual session offers a chance for interested parties to "learn about the five lines of service of the American Red Cross and our volunteer opportunities," the event page noted.

Around 600 American Red Cross volunteers across the country have reportedly come forward to help in view of Hurricane Laura, Tennessee's WTVF reported.

The regional disaster officer for the American Red Cross of Missouri-Arkansas, Chris Harmon, noted: "In anticipation of the devastation that may result from these two storms, we have sent several volunteers from Missouri and Arkansas to help along the Gulf Coast and we anticipate more will be needed.

"COVID-19 has affected the number of our current volunteers who are available to deploy, so we are asking healthy individuals who can deploy up to 14 days to consider joining us as a temporary disaster volunteer," he added.

OB volunteer work may involve "serving hot meals and handing out bags of relief to helping residents salvage precious belongings and aiding in debris removal and cleanup," the group noted.

Volunteers with OB are provided with free food, housing, tools and supplies "to make the most of your time on the ground," the organization stated.

OB noted: "Our U.S. Disaster Relief Team has been monitoring Hurricane Laura very closely as it barrels toward the Gulf Coast.

"Operation Blessing's disaster relief team will move in to assess the situation as soon as possible. Disaster victims need your help today," the group noted in a post Thursday on its official Twitter account.

Provide shelter

With hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes due to Hurricane Laura, many are in need of shelter. Those who want to open up their homes to those affected can do so through Airbnb's Open Homes program.

"Hosts can play an important role in their community's response and recovery–just by offering their extra space. Since 2012, hosts have opened their doors to people affected by disasters all over the world," the company stated.

An Open Homes host would need to provide an entire home or apartment, a bed, basic amenities and toiletries, and availability for two or more consecutive days, the company noted.

Give blood

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center was reported to be in urgent need of blood donations in Louisiana and Texas.

The center was forced to temporarily close its branch in the Greater Houston area due to Hurricane Laura, which resulted in a shortage of 600 units of blood, Houston's ABC13 reported.

Community Development Coordinator with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Cameron Palmer, told ABC13: "We are in a pandemic, and now a hurricane is coming through...but we don't want the community to forget about the patients in the hospital that need blood transfusions to survive."

The center is expected to resume normal operations and mobile drives from Thursday. Those who want to donate blood can find a location and set up an appointment at www.giveblood.org.

Hurricane Laura, Lake Charles, Louisiana
A person pictured next to a hotel with its roof blown off following Hurricane Laura on August 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Hurricane Laura Relief: How to Donate and Help Victims of Devastating Storm | News