A condo building partially collapsed early Thursday near Miami, Florida, and experts have advice for those looking for ways to help in the aftermath of disasters.
Champlain Towers South Condo, a 12-story oceanfront condo in Surfside, collapsed around 2 a.m. — leaving at least 10 injured and at least one dead, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told The Miami Herald. Frank Rollason, director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management, said more than 70 units were damaged or destroyed.
Rollason said “everyone who is alive is out of the building.” But authorities say they anticipate additional fatalities.
A reunification hotline and center are set up to reunite loved ones after the collapse. Those who have relatives who live or work at the building who are accounted for or known to be safe are asked to call 305-614-1819 to notify officials, The Miami Herald reports.
Here are other general ways experts say the public can help in the aftermath of a disaster:
Donating money and goods
Financial donations to “recognized disaster relief” organizations are the most effective way of helping those impacted by a disaster, according to ready.gov.
These donations “allow voluntary organizations to fund response and recovery efforts, obtain goods and services locally and provide direct financial assistance to disaster survivors to meet their own needs.”
“When the public supports these voluntary organizations with financial contributions, it helps ensure a steady flow of important services to the people in need after a disaster,” ready.gov says.
Donating goods that are specifically requested by recognized organizations can also be helpful.
But donating unsolicited goods, such as used clothes, miscellaneous household items or perishable foods, can require organizations to “redirect valuable resources away” from providing needed services, ready.gov says.
“Confirm the needs by contacting the voluntary organization of your choice before starting to collect,” it says.
It’s also important to make sure your donations are going to help those affected by avoiding charity fraud. Tips on how to avoid scams when donating can be found here.
Another way to help is to volunteer with a “recognized organization involved in disaster response.”
But it’s important to not just “show up” to help as it can complicate the efforts of responders. Instead, officials say to learn how to help through recognized groups like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or others.
“Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency says. “Depending on the disaster and the current phase it is in, volunteers can be extremely helpful to ensure survivors can return to their new normal.”
In Surfiside, the Red Cross is in the town square helping those waiting to hear about their missing loved ones, the Miami Herald reports.
FEMA says recovery efforts after a disaster will last longer than “media attention.”
“There will be volunteer needs for many months, often many years, after the disaster,” FEMA says. “Your help is often needed long after a disaster.”