How to help Hurricane Matthew victims in US, Caribbean after destructive storm affects millions

By Chaffin Mitchell for AccuWeather.com

Following Hurricane Matthew's wrath, millions will be displaced and in need throughout the Caribbean and United States.

It is important to respond quickly, however, good judgment on how to respond could make the difference between helping or hurting.

Images of Hurricane Matthew's destruction

24 PHOTOS
Heartbreaking photos of Haiti recovering from Hurricane Matthew
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Heartbreaking photos of Haiti recovering from Hurricane Matthew

The port city of Les Cayes flooded, suffering badly in the storm.

(Photo via REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

A flooded river in Jérémie. Rising water has prompted fears of a surge in the cholera epidemic.

Source: The Guardian

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Many homes in Jérémie were heavily damaged.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

In Port-au-Prince, a street or a waste yard?

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Some homes are on the verge of collapse. Shelter is a huge concern.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Sifting through the damage. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

People carrying their belongings through flooded streets.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Citizens take part in a gathering while Hurricane Matthew passes in Port-au-Prince.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Looking after children is one of the biggest concerns here.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

A girl cries with her relatives at a heavily damaged school.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

An injured man at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passed Jérémie.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Rescue workers bury the dead.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

An injured woman breast-feeds her baby at a shelter.

Source: The Guardian

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Homes are gone, but life goes on.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

A relative cries in the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A relative cries before the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Aerial view of damages in small village of Casanette near Baumond, Haiti on October 8, 2016 after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged over 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Nicolas GARCIA (Photo credit should read NICOLAS GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Florida governor Rick Scott (C) visits a damaged beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A man leans on a damaged boardwalk at a debris covered beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A man leans on a leftover of a boardwalk in a debris covered beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives get ready for the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman tries to get food at a shelter in the school Liliane Mars Dumarsais Estime after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Relatives cry in the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
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Resist the urge to go to the disaster site

It is dangerous to go to the affected area as the storm rages on. Even in the immediate aftermath, people rushing to the site can cause problems. Interstates can get clogged with more traffic, gasoline supplies could be diminished and emergency personnel can be hindered from properly responding.

Instead, find a way to donate money that could provide a shelter or a relief supply kit.

Cash is the best donation

Food, clothing and supplies might be the first thing people think to donate; however, cash donations are preferred. When items are donated, volunteers have to divert their attention to separating, distributing and storing.

"Monetary donations are the most flexible and can be used immediately in response to a crisis," Divisional Communications Director of the Salvation Army Dulcinea Kimrey said.

It allows the organization to purchase exactly what is needed, when it is needed, Kimrey said.

"Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost," Kimrey said.

Make sure to send money to a reputable charity. Check if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance.

"Citizens should contact their local non-profit agencies, such as the American Red Cross, churches/places of worship, or contact their local county offices for contact information if they would like to donate resources to assist flood victims," North Carolina Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Jerry Higgins said.

Cholera outbreak in Haiti after storm

20 PHOTOS
Cholera outbreak in Haiti post Hurricane Matthew
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Cholera outbreak in Haiti post Hurricane Matthew
A child is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 
Men receive treatment for cholera after Hurricane Matthew in the Hospital of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A child is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Children are treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Two women take care of two children receiving treatment for cholera after Hurricane Matthew in the Hospital of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
A boy receives a drip to be treated for cholera after Hurricane Matthew in the Hospital of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man is treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People are treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A child is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People are being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People are treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People are being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A child is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People are being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A child is being treated at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman feeds her child at the cholera treatment center at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Adults hold children receiving treatment for cholera after Hurricane Matthew in the Hospital of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Relatives and patients treated for cholera after Hurricane Matthew in the Hospital of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
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Choose your cause

Pick your choice of aid by sending money to help rebuild houses, send a relief supply kit, distribute critical supplies or send food. Before selecting a charity, think about what is needed most in the disaster area.

"Even the smallest contribution can make a big difference," President Obama said in a Hurricane Matthew press conference on Friday.

ShelterBox

A ShelterBox assessment team will travel to Haiti to assess the extent of the damage. ShelterBox already has limited stocks of ShelterBox aid stored in Haiti, but, they don't think it will be enough.

They are asking for donations in order to help everyone in need of a shelter. Your donation could provide tools, mosquito nets, ropes and even a tent.

"We will continue to monitor the storm and its impact in the U.S. and ShelterBox Response Teams are standing by to assist if needed," President of ShelterBox USA Kerri Murray said.

Salvation Army

The best way people can help The Salvation Army's relief efforts for Hurricane Matthew is to make a monetary donation. Donations can also be made by calling 1-800-Sal-Army or text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving.

People can learn how to volunteer with The Salvation Army.

"For the first time, The Salvation Army is offering its introduction to emergency services course onlinecourse online," Kimrey said.

American Red Cross

Join AccuWeather in supporting the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross provides care to those in need. The donors, volunteers and employees all relieve suffering around the world. Red Cross responds to disasters in the U.S., supports America's Millitary families, helps with blood donations and is the nation's leading provider or health and safety courses.

"This is a time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another. We are proud to stand alongside and partners to serve those in need of our help," Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster operations and logistics for the Red Cross said.

Red Cross also suggests other ways to help.

United Way Worldwide

United Way Worldwide stands ready to assist the Caribbean and the southeastern United States as Hurricane Matthew continues on its path.

United Way partners with 2-1-1, a free, confidential, nationwide service that connects people from all communities to essential health and human services.

"United Way knows that successful communities LIVE UNITED and encourages all to be mindful of their safety and that of their neighbors," Southerlyn Worsham, director of public relations at United Way Worldwide, said. Donations enable United Way Worldwide to improve millions of lives.

2-1-1 will remain open and ready to provide local information about shelters, food and water, health resources and other needs throughout Hurricane Matthew.

World Vision

World Vision is on the ground helping victims of Hurricane Matthew. Their main goal is to distribute critical supplies to displaced families.

A donation of $16 will provide a personal hygiene kit, which includes shampoo, soap, deodorant, a toothbrush and more, while $50 will help children and families. An amount of $126 will feed a family.

World Vision Public Relations Manager Amy Parodi said once World Vision's assessment in Haiti is done they will know how to best respond.

"We'll certainly be working to help people rebuild their damaged or destroyed homes and rebuild crops that were destroyed," Parodi said.

People who want to help in Haiti can donate on the orange banner across the top of their page.

15 deadliest hurricanes to hit the U.S.

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15 of the deadliest American hurricanes ever
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15 of the deadliest American hurricanes ever

Hurricane Hugo, 1989: 21 deaths

Hurricane Hugo made landfall as a Category 4 storm in South Carolina. It caused 21 deaths in the US and resulted in $7.1 billion of damage. At the time, it was the costliest storm in US history.

Photo courtesy: Getty

Tropical Storm Allison, 2001: 41 deaths

While not an official hurricane, Allison clocks in as the costliest and deadliest tropical storm in US history, causing 41 deaths and costing more than $5 billion in damage. The storm started over the Gulf of Mexico near Texas, then traveled east, causing floods like the one pictured here in Houston, Texas.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Irene, 2011: 56 deaths

Hurricane Irene, the first storm to hit the US since Ike three years earlier, made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. The storm eventually made its way up to New York City, bringing flooding -- like the kind pictured here in Puerto Rico -- and causing $7.3 billion in damage overall.

Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Floyd, 1999: 57 deaths

Hurricane Floyd was a catastrophic storm because of the rain it brought along. The rain caused extreme flooding from North Carolina on up as the Category 2 storm traveled up the East Coast.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944: 64 deaths

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was also devastating to New England, with 64 deaths and more than $100 million in damage. The storm was a Category 3 as it sped up the coast, hitting the Carolinas, Rhode Island, and Long Island before downgrading to a Category 2 in Maine.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Agnes, 1972: 122 deaths

Hurricane Agnes, as seen in this image made it all the way inland to Pennsylvania. Although it was only a Category 1 storm (with winds from 74-95 mph), it still caused 122 deaths and caused $2.1 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Ike, 2008: 195 deaths

The third costliest storm in US history, with $29.5 billion in damage, occurred in September 2008. Starting off the west coast of Africa, Hurricane Ike made its way over the Caribbean and into the Gulf, making US landfall in Texas as a Category 2 storm

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Hurricane Camille, 1969: 256 deaths

Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and clocks in as the second most intense hurricane to hit the US.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

New England, 1938: 256 deaths

Nicknamed "Long Island Express," the storm hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm before charging north and hitting Long Island, New York and Connecticut as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm was responsible for more than 256 deaths.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Sandy, 2012: 285 deaths

With $71.4 billion in damage, Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest hurricane in US history. The Category 1 storm pummeled New York City, flooding the city's transportation systems and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

It's looking more and more like Hurricane Joaquin won't make landfall in the US and join the list of most horrific storms in US history.

Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: 416 deaths

The U.S. started naming storms with women's names starting in 1953. Hurricane Audrey, the first storm of the 1957 hurricane season was the deadliest of the 1950s. It originated in the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm. This image of the storm shows just how far hurricane imaging has come.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Atlantic-Gulf, 1919: 600 to 900 deaths

This Category 4 storm swept into the Gulf of Mexico right under Key West, Florida(pictured), landing as a Category 3 storm in Corpus Christi, Texas. Anywhere from 600 to 900 people died in that storm.

Hurricane Katrina, 2005: 1,200 deaths

Hurricane Katrina is arguably the most notorious storm of the 21st century. The storm made landfall as a Category 5 near Miami before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest, and costliest hurricane in U.S. history with more than 1,200 deaths and $108 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

San Felipe Okeechobee, 1928: 2,500 deaths

This hurricane was the second deadliest in US history, with more than 2,500 deaths. The Category 4 storm made landfall in Palm Beach on September 10, 1928. Puerto Rico got hit hard as well, with winds at 144 mph.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Galveston, Texas in 1900: 8,000 to 12,000 deaths

The deadliest hurricane in US history happened at the turn of the 20th century. The Category 4 of 5 hurricane -- with winds anywhere from 130-156 mph -- made landfall in Galveston, Texas (pictured), then headed north through the Great Plains. Anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 people died in the storm.

Photo courtesy: Creative Commons

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The Humane Society

The Humane Society can't help animals in the disaster without your help.

Donations go toward providing temporary shelter to animals in need, helping lost and displaced animals reunite with their homes and families and more.

"Anyone who wants to help the animals affected by the storm should donate funds rather than supplies so that organizations can use the money on what's most urgent at any given moment," Senior Director of the Rescue and Response Team with the Humane Society, Sára Varsa said.

"We are grateful to be working with the Charleston Animal Society and Greenville County Animal Care to ensure animals will be safely housed during this strong storm," Senior Manager of Disaster Response for The HSUS Wanda Merling said.

Stray animals should be checked for injuries or illness. Trap injured or sick animals as soon as possible and get them medical care.

Volunteer after the storm has cleared

To make operations run smoothly, make sure to have training or register to be a volunteer. Manual labor is not the only support needed. Volunteers are able to help with communications, medical, office, human services, damage assessment and labor support.

"One of the most critical times to use volunteers is following disasters," Volunteer Florida CEO Chester W. Spellman said.

"All Floridians have the potential to transform communities and change the lives of Florida families through volunteering," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. "When Floridians work together, we can accomplish anything and I encourage everyone from the Keys to the Panhandle to lend a helping hand and give back to our state."

For the first time, The Salvation Army is offering an emergency services course online. The volunteer can take the course online and could be placed on volunteer duty at their local Salvation Army unit.

More from AccuWeather:
Matthew may make U-turn toward hard-hit areas of US, Caribbean on rare path
10 harrowing photos that display Hurricane Matthew's devastation in the Caribbean
Weekly wrap-up: Hurricane Matthew kills over 800 in Haiti

Lesser known ways to help after a disaster

Fundraise

GoFundMe is a great way to spread the word and raise more money for donations to send to a charity.

Housing

Airbnb, a popular online housing app, also stepped in to help. During evacuations for Hurricane Matthew, Airbnb launched a tool to help those in South Carolina. The urgent accommodations tool allows users to offer their midland homes for displaced hurricane victims.

Donate blood

Remember, recovery last longer than a few days. Disaster areas can take years to fully recover. If donations run out within the first few days, volunteers no longer have the resources and funds to help.

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