Written by Dilber Shatursun
Hurricane Dorian is set to make history – for all the wrong reasons.
Projected to make landfall this Labor Day on September 2, it is estimated to strike Florida and/or Georgia as a Category 4 storm. This would make Dorian the strongest hurricane to enter Eastern Florida since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.
It would also be the third year in a row that Florida experiences a major (or above Category 3) hurricane, with Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018. Lastly, it would be the fourth consecutive year in a row that the Sunshine State has experienced hurricanes- a record not broken since the 1940s. Talk about bad fortune.
Earlier this week, Dorian brought heavy rainfall, flooding, and power outages throughout the US and British Virgin Islands. Though Puerto Rico was mostly spared, it still brought rain and power outages across the island, too, and at least one storm-related death has been reported.
Category 4: What It Means for Florida + Georgia
According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, winds in a Category 4 storm may range between 130-156 mph. Such high speeds can cause catastrophic damage, including snapped or uprooted trees and power poles, power outages ranging from weeks to months, and severely damaged roofs and exterior walls of homes- making many areas potentially uninhabitable for months.
However, many experts say that assessments based on wind alone are not enough to predict the type of damage that will befall a particular area. Seawater surge and torrential rains may account for a significant amount of damage from flooding and may very well cause more impact, including property damage and deaths, than from high winds alone.
As a result, Florida, and now Georgia, too (where Dorian may potentially reach), have declared states of emergencies in all 67 and in 12 counties, respectively. GA Governor Brian P. Kemp has said, “the best we can do is prepare for it. Protect your belongings, protect your home and make sure you’re ready to move very quickly in the next 24 hours or so.”
How Can I Help?
Turn your compassion into action by making a donation to Tzu Chi USA. Doing so, you will empower our volunteers with the financial resources to offer life-changing aid to individuals and families who will face the brunt of Dorian.
Aside from supplies, among our most powerful tools for disaster relief are our cash cards. These help families immediately purchase their most pressing needs, including gas, temporary accommodation fees, groceries, new clothing, baby care items, medications and medical supplies, toiletries, and so much more. Help relieve a family of the great burden before them at www.tzuchi.us/donate.
How Does Tzu Chi USA’s Disaster Aid Work?
Every disaster is different, but many of the same principles apply.
Tzu Chi volunteers begin by closely monitoring disaster situations just like Dorian. Should the need arise, we begin mobilizing volunteers and materials and team leaders/coordinators help determine if immediate, on-the-ground support may be necessary. This may include distributions of blankets, food, and/or coordination with local agencies.
Upon a disaster’s aftermath- and assuming conditions are safe enough to dispatch our dedicated volunteers- we may conduct assessments of the situation, including particularly vulnerable areas, and determine what type of short and/or long term assistance is most helpful.
From there, Tzu Chi volunteers begin planning for a distribution that may include eco-friendly materials including scarves and blankets, cash cards to give families a meaningful token of hope, and bamboo banks to spread the love.
Then, should a demonstrated need for further aid still exist for select households and should resources be available, we move forward with case management, where Tzu Chi volunteers commit to monitoring individuals’ or families’ progress for the long term.