Here is some great advice from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Regine Webster and Lori Bertman wrote a nice article summarizing what people can do to help with the clean-up efforts and aftermath.
1. Immediate Needs: There are opportunities to support vulnerable populations such as the elderly and infirm, as well as those who don’t speak English and may have greater needs when it comes to recovery. Those interested in health care may support recovery efforts for damaged medical infrastructure-but also the nonprofits that will step up to meet physical and psychological needs while infrastructure is being repaired. Consider mental health support for those still coping with losses from Hurricane Irene in 2011, or even those impacted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, now seeing the memorial flooded by Sandy’s waters.
2. Longer Term: It will take some time for the full range of needs to emerge. Power loss, transportation outages, and flood-damaged homes may be top of mind, but we have yet to truly understand the impact that this storm has had on people’s lives. Be patient in planning for disaster funding. Recovery will take a long time, and funding will be needed throughout.
3. Disaster Planning: Recognize that the storm may expose needs not typically seen on this scale in the United States-and this will open up possibilities for future disaster planning. Plans could be developed for the more effective distribution of food during massive power outages. In addition, as sewage and standing water covers portions of communities, the risks of disease and environmental damage increase.
4. Share Best Practices:Florida, for example, has developed stringent building codes to mitigate destruction from hurricanes. Storms are increasing in intensity due to climate change, and the hurricane threat zone also is expanding. Interested donors could help support the transfer of expertise from one region to another before the next disaster occurs. Another area for best practices research and sharing: efforts to coordinate volunteers as well as the distribution of supplies, since the storm covered such a large geographic area.
Be willing to consider long-term, multi-year commitments. Remember that New Orleans still hasn’t fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. New York still hasn’t fully rebuilt from damage sustained on Sept. 11, 2001.
5. Connect With Other Funders: Collaborative philanthropic response to the disaster leverages combined expertise and maximizes the value of the human, financial, and technical resources donated. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy works closely with community foundations, regional associations, funders, and responding NGOs to share trustworthy information and analysis.