Here's How to Help Hurricane Irma Victims

The record-breaking storm has left a wide path of destruction across the Caribbean and Florida.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Donate to the Victims in the Caribbean and FloridaOpen Your Home to Hurricane VictimsVolunteer in PersonDonate to Animal Shelters

While Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it passes through northern Florida today, it is already responsible for at least four deaths in Florida and at least 27 deaths and widespread damage across the Caribbean, the New York Times reports (opens in new tab). At least 5.8 million customers are without electricity in Florida after hurricane-force winds knocked down power lines across the state.

"We are doing everything we can to get food and water throughout the state," Florida Governor Rick Scott told The New York Times. "Most importantly we have got to save every life and we have got to make sure people understand it is still dangerous."

Here's what you can do to help.

Caribbean islands including St. Martin (opens in new tab), Barbuda, and St. Barts (opens in new tab), as well as Puerto Rico and Cuba, took the heaviest hits from Hurricane Irma. Unicef (opens in new tab) and GlobalGiving (opens in new tab) are taking donations to help with hurricane relief efforts, while GoFundMe (opens in new tab) has a page dedicated to specific campaigns for people affected by the storm in the Caribbean and Florida.

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'The damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.'

(Image credit: Archives)

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'A woman surveys the flood damage in her house in the city of Fort Liverte, Haiti on September 8, 2017.'

(Image credit: Archives)

Remember, monetary donations are the most helpful according to the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI).

"Many Americans respond to disasters by collecting food, clothing, and household items for people in need, " the CIDI's website states (opens in new tab). "These donations require transportation—which is expensive and logistically complicated. Cash donations allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site, avoiding delays and steep transportation and logistical costs that can encumber material donations."

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' People walk past a building where the roof was blown off by Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida.'

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While Tampa was spared from a direct hit from Irma, parts of downtown Miami experienced significant flooding and 90 percent of customers in Jacksonville Beach, Florida lost power because of the storm. "I've never seen anything like it," Mayor Charlie Latham of Jacksonville Beach said on CNN of the surge and flooding there.

For more reputable charities working to help with Hurricane Irma relief, see the full list at Charity Navigator (opens in new tab).

Open Your Home to Hurricane Victims

If you check in between now and September 28, 2017, Airbnb (opens in new tab) is waiving all fees for certain rentals in the southeast United States for people displaced by the storm and relief workers deployed to help in the affected regions. There are 177 hosts who've opened their homes already, and you can list your home or any open rooms on the site for free too if you're able to welcome those affected by the storm.

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' A house flooded by Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017 in Bonita Springs, Florida.'

(Image credit: Archives)

Volunteer in Person

If you're located near the affected areas and are able to volunteer, do not show up unexpectedly because that will create a burden for the first responders, according to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (opens in new tab).

Keep in mind, however, that volunteers will be needed for many months and years in the future. See what opportunities are available here in Florida (opens in new tab)Puerto Rico (opens in new tab) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (opens in new tab).

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'Damage in Orient Bay on Saint-Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma.'

(Image credit: Archives)


(Image credit: Archives)

The ASPCA has set up a "mega emergency shelter" in South Carolina for more than 600 shelter animals to be cared for out of Irma's path. One hundred percent of donations made today will go toward's ASPCA's Field Investigation and Response Fund (opens in new tab)The Best Friends Animal Society (opens in new tab) and the South Florida Wildlife Center (opens in new tab) are also taking donations.

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'A Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling drowned during Hurricane Irma along Fort Lauderdale Beach in Florida.'

(Image credit: Archives)

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Lyndsey Matthews
Lyndsey Matthews

Lyndsey Matthews is the Destination News Editor for AFAR; previously she was a Lifestyle Editor across all of Hearst Digital Media's brands, and a digital editor at Martha Stewart Weddings and Travel + Leisure.