How Can We Help Sandy's Storm Victims?

Headlines still boldface the numbers that keep changing every few hours:  dozens dead, thousands displaced, millions without power.  The fortunate survivors still struggle with getting to work, lining up to buy gasoline, or even keeping enough clean drinking water.  The American Red Cross says Mexico is sending Red Cross workers to assist with key health tasks in this massive 10-state relief effort.  New York City, still a media center for the world, never stopped reporting from both old and new media sources, with its Times Square billboards unscathed, while the least fortunate are still hanging on for dear life and normalcy.

Weather experts tell us the Atlantic's largest ever hurricane, named Sandy, was due to wreak unprecedented havoc.  Climate scientists, including those for the federal government as well as independent researchers, explain that global warming likely made Sandy's impact worse than it would have been otherwise.

While storm victims are transitioning from survival to recovery mode, what are the rest of us to do?  Here's a rundown of some ways to help:

You can donate directly to the American Red Cross disaster relief efforts via the organization's website.  Because the disaster has cancelled regular East coast blood drives, you can donate blood in other unaffected areas of the United States so blood supplies don't run low.

You can avoid disaster assistance scams by making sure you give only to reputable charities.  As you know, con artists will prey on people's generosity during a time like this, so beware especially of anyone calling or emailing you with sound-alike charity names.  Flour Sack Mama's series on savvy charitable giving  offers tools for looking up a charity's ratings and reputation.  

Be aware of the cost of transportation in the context of relief efforts.  The gasoline shortage in the immediate disaster area underscores that the rest of us can't afford to waste valuable resources.  A dollar given toward providing clean water and food sourced close to the disaster area usually goes much farther than a dollar spent on items traveling hundreds of miles to get there.

If you haven't already discovered the connection between the way we live and the climate change that can make weather events more extreme, check out the information at the US National Weather, or Climate Reality.  If you're looking for easy ways to get started at your home, today, to reduce climate change, Team ENERGY STAR offers free tools that can also save you money.

Here's hoping and praying that Sandy's storm victims can heal and recover.  Many are also praying that we can become more mindful of preventing and preparing for future disasters.