Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Hurricane Irma and Maria Recovery


Since 2013, SDMI has had the opportunity to host bi-annual delegations comprised of academia, first responders and government officials from the Caribbean and South American regions. Through our valued partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SDMI has educated over 100 delegation members in Emergency Management and Homeland Security topics.  Delegations have had the opportunity to learn first-hand about hurricane and flooding responses at the state and local level during their visits to Louisiana.

With Harvey recovery ongoing, in a region still recovering from Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria barreled through causing region-wide catastrophic and complete destruction. Over a week since the storm has passed, Puerto Rico is still without power and has spotty access to water. Other islands suffered similarly, and are struggling with essentials such as food, water and fuel.

The region needs immediate and long-term help. There exist numerous groups collecting donations to provide relief in many different forms are listed below. If you are looking to lend your support, and ensure your contribution can be the most helpful to the areas impacted, below are some key tips and resources to navigate which organization or areas best fit your donation(s).

Local Organizations


Unidos por Puerto Rico


This initiative, from Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico, enlists private sector help in providing aid to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Donations are accepted through a variety of means, including PayPal.


Fund for the Virgin Islands


The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, a nonprofit, is collecting donations through this fund, which will be used “both to support short-term relief efforts and to enhance the well-being of future generations.”



National and Global Charity Organizations


All Hands Volunteers



All Hands works with local volunteers and groups to respond to natural disasters. With Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, it is focusing its efforts on the U.S. Virgin Islands, due to theabsolute devastation experienced there.  All Hands Volunteers has sent an Immediate Response Team to USVI, starting with St. Thomas




UNICEF USA is mobilizing to get immediate, critical support — Emergency Relief Kits — to the children of Puerto Rico. A donation of just $28 will provide a kit containing basic, essential supplies such as water purification tablets, a water bucket with lid, water containers, soap, toothpaste, detergent and sanitary pads. The supplies will help children and their families keep clean and healthy, protecting them from diseases that can occur after the loss of equipment and infrastructure and the disruption of a safe water supply.

Catholic Relief Services

Working closely with local governments and partners, including Caritas, Catholic Relief Services provided relief to affected families and sent staff to Tortola, a British Virgin Island, to work with Caritas Antilles.


American Red Cross – www.redcross.org; 800-RED-CROSS

The Salvation Army – www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/hurricanes2017; or 800-SAL-ARMY

The United Way – www.unitedway.org/hurricane-irma


When in doubt, VOLUNTEER!!!

Puerto Rico’s public officials and disaster relief organizations are still surveying the damage to pinpoint which areas need help. Sign up with Puerto Rico VOAD to be contacted about volunteer opportunities once needs are determined.


No stranger to natural disasters, SDMI at Louisiana State University has all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and those potentially in the path of Hurricane Irma in our thoughts.

Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of its kind to make landfall in the U.S. in over a decade, has caused mass devastation along the Texas and Southwest Louisiana coasts. While the full scope of the damage has yet to be determined, outpourings of concern and offerings of assistance have come in from every corner of the nation and other countries to help impacted communities begin the road to recovery.

If you are looking to lend your support, and ensure your contribution can be the most helpful for Hurricane Harvey disaster survivors, below are some key tips and resources to navigate which organization or areas best fit your donation(s).


The most effective way to support Hurricane Harvey survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations.

Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. Cash donations allow agencies to identify and access needs within the immediate area. The inflow of cash also pumps money quickly back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster. The continuity of government and business is a critical element to recovery, the faster the local economy is up and running again, the sooner citizens can resume a sense of normalcy.

Donating unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable food items are not necessarily the best items to donate. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors. Cash will have more impact to the affected areas during this time of need. Please consider the options if you are unsure how you can personally provide help to the affected areas.

Remember to always donate through a trusted organization.  At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. Below are some of these organizations where your donation(s) can have the greatest impact:

American Red Cross – www.redcross.org; 800-RED-CROSS; or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army – www.helpsalvationarmy.org; or 800-SAL-ARMY

The United Way – www.uwtexas.org/hurricane-harvey; or text UWFLOOD to 41444


At SDMI, our preparedness and response activities center around animals too! People in affected areas also have animals in need as well, whether it is vet care, shelter, or food for both household or other animals.  The below organizations have set up ways to donate to help various animal welfare organizations actively working in Texas and Louisiana.

The SPCA of Texas – https://www.spca.org/

The SPCA of Louisiana – https://www.la-spca.org/

The Houston Humane Society – http://www.houstonhumane.org/

The Louisiana Humane Society – http://news.humanela.org/



Post disaster medical care in communities following disasters is a challenge. Consider donating cash or even blood to organizations and agencies that assist in helping the sick and elderly with immediate and urgent medical care post event.


Direct Relief is providing funding and emergency health kits to community health centers in Texas. The contents of the health kits are based on the organization’s experience in previous hurricanes, and include items such as insulin, asthma inhalers, and anti-hypertensive medication – https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/hurricane-harvey-response/

The American Kidney Fund has set up a disaster relief fund to help dialysis patients affected by the storm – http://www.kidneyfund.org/disaster-relief

In addition to the American Red Cross, local organizations accepting blood donations are Carter BloodCare and the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.


With many local grocery stores and distribution centers affected by Harvey, getting food on shelves and into homes will continue to prove difficult until areas are passable for commodities to flow, stores are cleaned up and power is restored. Donating to food banks can serve as a short term solution to those seeking food. A number of food banks will be aiding the affected region. Consider donating money instead of food, as it allows a food bank to use your donation most effectively.

List of food banks in Texas likely to be affected by Harvey:

Houston Food Bank



Galveston Food Bank



Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)



Corpus Christi Food Bank



Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)



Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)



Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)



Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)



San Antonio Food Bank




FEMA Individual Assistance (IA)

FEMA Administrator Brock Long has indicated that early estimates show some 450,000 may qualify for federal flood victim assistance. The FEMA Individual Assistance Program is available to all those eligible.


The FEMA Helpline (1-800-621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585)


Small Business Administration Application

SBA provides low-interest Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners and renters.  The loans provide people the opportunity to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment. Inventory and assets.


Some applications for disaster assistance require submission of an SBA application before eligibility for assistance can be determined.  Learn more about the home and property disaster loan application. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela




LSU Foundation

LSU Student Disaster Relief Fund: LSU is raising funds to assist our students who have been impacted by the storm. To make a tax-deductible contribution to the fund, please visit www.lsufoundation.org/lsustudentrelieffund

give now

Texas Universities Disaster Relief Fund: As we think about how to best serve our students, we ask that you also think about the generosity of the Texas A&M students who raised money for LSU students affected by the Baton Rouge flood last year. LSU is seeking donations to help Houston-area public university students.  If you would like to make a contribution, visit www.lsufoundation.org/txunivdisasterrelief

give to texas


LSU Food Pantry

The LSU Food Pantry, located in Room 350 of the Student Union, is a free resource designed to help students in need of food. https://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/campuslife/food-pantry/

LSU Baseball

Sent unknown number of shirts and shoes


LSU Basketball

Sent 20 pairs of shoes and 40+ t-shirts (Link)



LSU Swimming and Diving

Sent 200 towels, 10 pairs of shoes, and 30 sets of warmup gear http://www.lsusports.net/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=5200&ATCLID=211664742