Helping Caribbean Islands Recover from a Devastating Hurricane Season

As anyone who lives in the Southeast knows, hurricanes can cause massive devastation and disruption. Streets and homes flood, power disappears, cellular networks go down and basic necessities are suddenly in short supply.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a 1-2 punch, hitting communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In their wake, many foundations stepped up, creating or contributing to funds to fuel relief efforts that will last long after these storms fade from the headlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen in the past week, this hurricane season’s impact has spread beyond the Southeast. Many island nations and U.S. territories in the Caribbean, which were already hit hard by Harvey and Irma, were also dealt another blow by Hurricane Maria. Some places, like Barbuda, were rendered nearly uninhabitable. In other places, particularly Puerto Rico, residents are facing the possibility of weeks or even months without electricity.

These islands were already struggling in other ways, including high poverty rates, weak infrastructure, political instability and economic distress. They simply do not have the capacity to recover on their own – and that’s where American philanthropy can help.

That’s why SECF is proud to support the Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort (CARE) Fund, recently launched by the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development. The CARE Fund will provide direct support to frontline relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and will coordinate partners in the continental United States. Looking ahead, the foundation hopes to use the CARE fund to further its mission of supporting holistic community development.

We hope you, or your organization, will consider making a gift to the CARE Fund by visiting its website today. The foundation will support rebuilding strategies grounded in innovation and sustainability. Its long-term hurricane relief efforts will facilitate comprehensive plans to minimize loss of life, mitigate infrastructure damage, improve structural performance of homes and facilitate a more rapid recovery in the aftermath of future storms.

Our partners at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy have also established an Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery fund aimed at helping those affected by all storms this season. Specific locations and unmet needs will be determined by a grant advisory committee that will be established to guide CDP’s staff and board.

No other region of the United States understands better than the Southeast what these islands are going through. Now is the time to put our understanding – and our compassion – to use in helping with their recovery.

Dwayne Marshall is SECF's senior director of programs and partnerships.


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