US & World

How to soften the blow from recent hurricanes and earthquakes

People walk next to a flooded gas station in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
People walk next to a flooded gas station in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
Carlos Giusti/AP
People walk next to a flooded gas station in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
Rescue vehicles stand trapped under a collapsed awning while Hurricane Maria lashed Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Carlos Giusti/AP
People walk next to a flooded gas station in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
Search and rescue groups carry a body through the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
Mayela Sánchez/GPJ Mexico


Back-to-back natural disasters in Mexico and across the Caribbean have left millions of people reeling.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck central Mexico on Tuesday, Sept. 19 crumpled buildings and killed more than 200 people. And it hit while Mexico was still recovering from another deadly and powerful earthquake in the southern part of the country.

Last Wednesday, Hurricane Maria dealt Puerto Rico a direct punch, knocking out power across the entire island. Its rains led to widespread flooding and its heavy winds took roofs, snapped power lines and uprooted trees. "The Puerto Rico and San Juan we knew yesterday is no longer there," Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told NBC News.

Other parts of the Caribbean had no time to catch their breath after surviving Hurricane Irma only to be ravaged by Maria.

NPR's Jason Beaubien spent time on the U.S. Virgin Islands after Irma hit and reports, "St. Thomas was basically surviving on a lifeline out of St. Croix and Puerto Rico and that lifeline was severed by Maria."

Beaubien advises against volunteers traveling to the region to help rebuild, noting that just getting enough clean water on the islands is "a huge problem, so extra bodies will need access to clean water too."

There are other ways to extend a lifeline. Here are some charities with an on-the-ground presence and accepting donations:

Puerto Rico/Caribbean

Mexico

How to make your money go further

"As when giving with any charity, try and do your due diligence about the organization you are giving to. Do friends vouch for it? Has it been endorsed by other trustworthy organizations? And watch out for scams," reports NPR's Carrie Kahn from Mexico City.

A good place to start is by looking up charities at Charity Navigator or Guidestar. Both are themselves charities that evaluate other nonprofits and track where their money goes.

What organizations do you think are doing good work to help those affected by these recent disasters? Let us know in the comments.

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