The first thing that sets in is the shock. How could this happen? If your loved ones endured a natural disaster, they might feel anger, grief, bewilderment or fear. You can help them in innumerable ways, such as by offering emotional support, child care or hot meals. You can also donate to relief agencies that will directly provide aid. There’s no action too small to help victims of natural disasters.
Your loved one’s world has been turned upside down in the wake of a hurricane, fire, flood, tornado or landslide. Here are some ways you can help.
1. Donate Blood
Hospitals often have patients in need of blood transfusions after a disaster. If you’re healthy enough, consider donating blood to injured people. It might not specifically be used to help your loved ones — you might not have a compatible blood type — but it could save the life of someone in the community.
Plus, taking care of one patient in the hospital helps all the others since they will need less attention from medical staff.
2. Prepare Meals
Serve food for your loved ones. Invite them for dinner or deliver meals to wherever they may be staying. Even if you aren’t the best cook, you can still buy premade food or put together easy dishes like sandwiches and salads for them. A simple vegetable platter or tray of cookies can go a long way to improving someone’s mood.
3. Offer Child Care And Pet Sitting
Loved ones with pets or kids might be overwhelmed by their caretaking duties as they focus on cleaning up, mourning a death or looking for new housing. In some cases, they might be living without electricity or other basic infrastructure. Offer your home as a refuge where your loved ones can drop off their children or pets for the day. You can provide meals, playtime and a sense of comfort.
4. Distribute Supplies
Many people lose their belongings in a natural disaster. Your loved ones may need basic supplies to help get them through this difficult time.
Here are some necessities you can offer:
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss
- Baby formula and diapers
- Pajamas, jackets, shoes and everyday clothes
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap, washcloths and towels
- A place to do laundry and dishes
- Basic medicines such as painkillers and allergy pills
Ask your loved ones what they need. If they don’t give a direct answer, offer specific items instead and see if they need them.
5. Donate To Disaster Relief Programs
One way to help your loved ones without directly getting involved is to donate to disaster relief agencies or humanitarian groups. Some suggestions include:
- American Red Cross
- Mercy Corps
- Salvation Army
- International Rescue Committee
- Partners in Health
- Doctors Without Borders
You can also reach out to local churches, community organizers, or search and rescue (SAR) groups to see if they’re accepting donations. Remember that not every organization has the infrastructure or facilities to take physical items. It often helps more to send monetary donations, which can then be used to buy supplies.
6. Continue Taking Care Of Yourself
You must set aside time for yourself, even when caring for someone in crisis. Neglecting your health means you could get burned out. If that happens, someone else might have to take care of you, drawing away resources from the victims needing the most assistance. Ensure you’re still getting plenty of exercise, food, water and sleep to be most useful during a disaster.
7. Take Time To Listen
Your loved ones are going through an extremely difficult situation. They may need someone to talk, cry or vent to who won’t minimize their feelings or tell them things could be worse. Offer to listen without judgment.
Recovering From Natural Disasters
It can take a long time to return to a sense of normalcy after a devastating event. Help your loved ones in whatever way is possible and practical for you, whether through cooking, child care, monetary donations or supplies. Sometimes, all they may need is a shoulder to cry on.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.