As I write this, I can’t help but appeal to you the reader as a nurse, but also as someone who is all too familiar with hurricanes. My hometown is in Florida. I have family and friends scattered all over the state. I grew up riding out hurricanes with family and friends. Irma is one of the worst hurricanes to threaten Florida in my lifetime. Some evacuated. Some stayed. The storm is beginning to show its ugly face on the shores of Miami and The Keys. I sit glued nervously to the television. I will stay here until I know my dad, brother and family, aunt, cousins, and friends are safe. They stayed and will ride the storm out boarded up in their houses together. While I wait and hope, I recall my work as a nurse during hurricanes. We already have a shortage of nurses and and medical staff and the need only increases not just before, but after as well. Here are a few ways to help.
The aftermath of the storm will include intense clean up and perhaps long displacement of families from their beloved homes. Those that have stayed will endure days, perhaps longer without any electricity. Those most vulnerable living without family or friends will need the most help. Shelter, hot food, and water will be needed in the days and weeks after the storm passes. If you are in an area affected and can help your neighbor, help. Clean up is a daunting effort, especially if faced alone. Check shelters that need help. Volunteers are needed. Special needs shelters are still in need of nurses or those with a medical background. Those already volunteering need to be relieved so that they themselves can rest.
If you are nowhere near Florida, you can donate. Any amount to either an individual family or to a non-profit help. Many families in affected areas live paycheck to paycheck. The choice of evacuating is daunting and the cost is a huge stress factor. Most do not receive a paycheck if they do not work. Some may not have money for food. There are many causes to donate to that help the victims of a natural disaster. Whether it is a human or animal displaced, there are plenty of trusted non-profit organizations that will need your help or donation. Donate blood. Any time during a disaster, the need for blood increases. There is always a need.
Share any resources you can. Airbnb has a special page set up for those willing to donate a room or two in the aftermath to host either displaced families or volunteers in need of housing. Share any food, supplies, clothing with someone in need. Do not forget the homeless.
As I finish writing this, Irma has passed through sparing family and friends, but left a wave of destruction in her path. With recent devastation in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, continued help is needed. As medical professionals, our job is a gift of giving. Please give in any way you can. A calling, not a job. Thank you for all you do.
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.
How You Can Help