MIAMI – A day after Hurricane Irma hit the Sunshine state, millions of people are without power, have limited access to food, and little phone service. Grassroots organizing groups have announced the establishment of a relief fund to support the wellbeing and recovery of vulnerable communities.
Managed by the Miami Foundation, money donated to the Irma Community Recovery Fund will go to ensure that community-based organizations get the support that they need to carry out crucial Hurricane Irma relief and recovery work. Participating organizations include New Florida Majority, Dream Defenders, Organize Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Faith in Florida and SEIU. A full list of organizations can be found here.
Donations can be made at http://www.IrmaCommunityRecovery.Fund
Collected funds are already being put good use, as organizations have opened up Community Emergency Operation Centers in Miami, South Dade, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Tampa,St. Petersburg and Jacksonville. Volunteers launching from those locations are going door to door to check on their neighbors to see what they need immediately in the Hurricane’s aftermath, distributing food and water, providing people without power the opportunity to charge their phones, and hosting community barbeques.
“As we saw with Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey, low-income communities of color are often the least equipped to weather intense storms,” Andrea Mercado, Executive Director of the New Florida Majority. “Today, we are asking people to join us in making a commitment to not let these communities be forgotten as they have been in the past when powerful storms wreaked havoc on their homes and livelihoods. The lack of electricity, potable water, and phone service is a dangerous combination, especially in poor communities where families may not have had the resources to purchase supplies.”
“Too often, the task of rebuilding cities after storm disasters is given to large corporations, monied real estate interests and others who limit access and resources on our communities,” said Umi Selah of the Dream Defenders. “We want to make sure that rebuilding efforts remain equitable by ensuring that the people who have built these neighborhoods — low income workers, the elderly, immigrants, people of color, grassroots organizations – get the resources they need to lead the effort. To ensure that people can return to their homes because in cities like New Orleans, we have seen recovery efforts after disasters like Katrina lead to gentrification and displacement.”
Stephanie Porta, Executive Director of Orlando-based Organize Florida said that the storm has passed, the task of strengthening neighborhoods has only begun.
“The path to recovery will be long and arduous, said Porta. “If we’ve learned anything from the past, we know that communities spend years rebuilding after powerful hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey. In the aftermath of Irma, we need to support our hard-hit low income communities and ensure that recovery funds are distributed equitably.”
“We are preparing for the long haul” agreed Mercado. “Make no mistake, Irma was no random natural disaster. Scientists have noted that rising temperatures caused by climate change are creating more powerful storms more often . In Florida, the confluence of climate change, structural racism, and the defunding of infrastructure for low-income communities of color will always yield deadly results for the most vulnerable – unless we do something about it.”
More About The New Florida Majority
The New Florida Majority is an independent organization working to increase the voting and political power of marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida. We believe that a strong democracy for all makes a better Florida for everyone. For more information, visit http://www.newfloridamajority.org
More About Dream Defenders
Dream Defenders is a grassroots organization that is building a powerful, deep, local, organization and movement for freedom and liberation in Florida. For more info, visit http://www.dreamdefenders.org
More About Organize Florida
Organize Florida is a community-based, nonprofit member organization of low and moderate income people dedicated to the principles of social, racial, and economic justice and the promotion of an equal and fair Florida for all. For more information, visit http://www.orgfl.org/