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. 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.
Donate to the Victims in the Caribbean and Florida
Caribbean islands including St. Martin, Barbuda, and St. Barts, as well as Puerto Rico and Cuba, took the heaviest hits from Hurricane Irma. Unicef and GlobalGiving are taking donations to help with hurricane relief efforts, while GoFundMe has a page dedicated to specific campaigns for people affected by the storm in the Caribbean and Florida.
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. "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."
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.
Open Your Home to Hurricane Victims
If you check in between now and September 28, 2017, Airbnb 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.
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.
Donate to Animal Shelters
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. The Best Friends Animal Society and the South Florida Wildlife Center are also taking donations.