Purdue disaster expert: Cash donations are very effective
West Central Indiana storm aftermath.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If Hoosiers want to help survivors of the 2013 November storms, a Purdue University disaster education specialist says, the best way is to:
- help neighbors,
- get involved with organizations that are responding, or
- donate cash that would go directly to meet specific needs of storm survivors.
"Cash is best," said Steve Cain, Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network homeland security project director. "It is better to donate cash instead of goods – unless you specifically know someone who can use a specific item – because local responders can more readily convert that into what's needed."
Cain, who also is president of the disaster-aid relief group West Central Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, of which Purdue Extension is a member, said people wanting to help can donate cash by working with their favorite charity. For those who are not familiar with organizations that actively work in disasters, visit http://www.nvoad.org/donate. Donations will go toward specific needs in affected areas.
Donations such as clothing and household items can become difficult for disaster responders to handle and might not be needed in some areas. Cain suggested that individuals and organizations with goods they want to donate might be more effective if they sell those items at a garage sale and donate the money raised.
"It is best to know the need," he said.
Cain also offered other advice to those wanting to help:
* Get involved by being an affiliated volunteer.
"Don't go to affected areas without aligning yourself with a recognized organization that has the means and the ability," he said. VOAD has a list of affiliated members and partners at http://www.nvoad.org/members and http://www.nvoad.org/partners.
"It may be too late for this disaster to get affiliated, but use this one to prepare for the next one," said Cain, who helped to coordinate hundreds of volunteers in the aftermath of the tornadoes in Henryville and other areas of southern Indiana in March and is helping in this year's storm response.
* Be Prepared.
"If you do volunteer, have a disaster supplies kit so that you aren't one of the victims you are trying to help," Cain said. "In this year's storm, when the power went out at our house, I only needed the hand-crank flash light, candles and sanitary hand cleaners from my kit. It was great to have them easily at hand when the power went off."