Category Archives: Hurricane Series

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Go Fund Me Campaigns for Hurricane Maria: Donate or Not ?

Since the Nature Isle, Dominica, was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Maria, there has been an impressive outpouring of national pride and international solidarity from Dominicans, friends and well-wishers abroad. However, with so much to do to repair the country, preserve life, and sustain the bodies, minds and souls of the hurricane Maria survivors, it’s hard from people abroad to know where to start, because we are so eager to help and do it right. But we know one thing for sure: we always need money, and we will never “not” need it. Especially in disaster emergencies.

If you haven’t seen the extent of the damage that Dominica endured, check out this short snippet of a region in the island 24 hours after the devastating hurricane.

But What do Hurricane Survivors Really Need?

The needs of hurricane survivors can be classified according to each phase of disaster response. There are a) Immediate needs, b) Maintenance needs and c) Long term needs.

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Immediate needs include BASIC NECESSITIES TO SURVIVE: food, water, shelter. Food, water. Water. More water. Even more water. Food. Shelter. A lot of it all. You get the point.

Maintenance needs also include immediate needs, but in larger amounts, to ensure sustainability. On top of that, you have other important things like first aid and essential which I am happy to discuss in another post.

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Long term needs include infrastructure, rebuilding and of course, emotional health (that money unfortunately cannot buy). I am happy to discuss about these needs in another blog post… For now, let’s get back to… Go Fund Me!

The Truth About Go Fund Me Campaigns

Go Fund Me has become one of the top crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events and causes that are worthy of every penny. In the past 7 years, the San Diego based company has raised over 3 billion dollars through more than 2 million individual campaigns. And while a lot of people have been able to support their dear cause, pay for overwhelming medical expenses, complete their graduate education and even support disaster relief operations through Go Fund Me funds, there are a few things you need to know about Go Fund Me campaigns before involving your funds.

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  • Where Does my Money go? This is the #1 question that I have heard from donors. The majority of the funds that are donated go to the person who created the campaign, and Go Fund Me taxes are deduced from the money raised (see picture). Other crowdfunding sites have policies on taxes and fees as well, such as Crowdfunder or Rockethub (just to name a few).

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  • How Do I know the Campaign is legit? The truth is, you don’t. While there are truly people out there who are raising funds for the good cause they pledged allegiance to, there are also scammers and people out there to take advantage. Differentiating between campaigns can be tricky, because even the most detailed and organized campaign can be a perfectly written lie (I don’t mean to be pessimist, but this is the digital age). Nonetheless, it might help to see that the campaign is associated with an official account and approved by the host government. For Dominica for instance, Go Fund Me campaigns that have been approved include the campaign by the CDOA Relief Fund, or the campaign by the Dominica American Relief and Development Association (DARDA). There are also other great campaigns organized by individuals such as Doctors in Our Circle Dominica Aid. Note that while popular campaigns seem to be more attractive and easy to see in Go Fund Me search, you still have to make sure that you a) read the description, b) check out the organizing party c) get in touch with them if need be!

What Happens with the Money Donated through Go Fund Me?

This is where we bridge the gap between the needs of hurricane survivors and ways in which Go Fund Me campaigns address those needs. For hurricane Maria survivors in Dominica, the majority of the campaigns that I have encountered aim at purchasing non-perishable items, essentials and water supplies for the survivors on island. This contributed in addressing their immediate and maintenance needs. Clearly, rebuilding infrastructure and ensuring emotional health are processes that would take a lot of time, but they have to start with a first step.

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The Final Verdict

When it comes to Go Fund Me, nothing is guarantee. I think at the end of the day, you make a judgement call and you listen to your intuition. If you feel like a campaign is legit, go for it. Donate, help someone. At the end of it all, you know how much Go Fund Me deducts from the campaign, but you might never know how much of the balance is actually used for the intended purpose. Unless you (or a very close friend) are the one running the campaign. So choose: do you want to take the risk of helping someone else, or hold back by fear? The ball is in your court.

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Have you ever done a Go Fund Me Campaign? Have you ever donated in Go Fund Me? Let me know what your experience was in the comments section below!

 


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5 Key Facts That You Need to Know About Atlantic Hurricanes

With the public outcry, the repeated requests from my readers and the facts that I directly (Hurricane Harvey in Houston) and indirectly (Hurricane Maria in Dominica and Puerto Rico) experienced two atlantic hurricanes during this hurricane season, I felt the need to develop a “hurricane series”.

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The purposes of this hurricane series are to 1) raise awareness on the multimodal devastating nature of hurricanes as natural disasters (for those who are still underestimating), 2) to share factual information and pictures of the aftermath of hurricane Maria and to 3) give recommendations on how you can provide hurricane relief in Dominica and why not, other areas affected by hurricanes.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a Hurricane expert, and I will keep informing myself and share what I learn with you. Feel free to share your knowledge on this topic as well in an informative manner. But to start with, here are 5 key facts that everyone needs to know about Hurricanes.

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1. Here is the actual definition of a hurricane: a hurricane is a “specific name” for a severe tropical cyclone. According to Wikipedia, a hurricane is “a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain”. In simpler terms, a hurricane is a group of storms that form along a low-pressure center and moved in a circular fashion, and are characterized by heavy strong winds and heavy rains. Depending on where you are, such tropical cyclones are called by different names. However, once a tropical cyclone moves at the sustained wind speed of 74-76 mph (miles per hour), it is considered a hurricane. If a tropical cyclone develops over the Atlantic ocean or northeastern Pacific ocean, it is called a “hurricane”. If it develops over the northwestern Pacific Ocean, it is called a “typhoon”. If it develops over the South Pacific or Indian Ocean, it is called a “cyclone”. 

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2. Hurricanes are Classified According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale: a lot of people have heard of hurricane categories 1-5, but the more I speak with people, the more I realize they don’t actually know what it means. And it’s Ok, because I used to “not know” as well. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale assesses hurricane severity based on the sustained wind speed, and this in turns helps to assess the likelihood of property damage. In other terms, the higher the “sustained wind speed”, the more deadly and damaging the hurricane is.

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3. For each country and region prone to hurricanes, hurricanes develop during a particular season, and there is a reason for that: hurricanes basically develop over large water surfaces, and are fueled by the evaporation of water. That being said, in the Caribbean, hurricane season usually starts in June (start of summer) and continues until November. That is when the waters get heated the most.

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4. Global Warming Potentiates Hurricanes: if you didn’t believe it before, believe it now. Think about it: when the oceans are getting heated up by the sun, three things happen, according to fluid dynamics:

a. Water evaporates, condenses and falls back as rain. And the more water evaporates, the more rain will fall, and the cycle goes on.

b. Water also expands in the ocean and occupies a larger surface, and that just gives more room for more water to evaporate and… the cycle continues.

c. More heat produces more energy to fuel the hurricane: based on the points that were made earlier, this makes sense.

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5. Hurricane “Warning” and Hurricane “watch” are issued in islands prone to hurricanes, and these mean different things: do you remember this “74 mph” we spoke about earlier? That is the cut off number that meteorologists use to determine when a cyclone becomes a hurricane. A hurricane watch is issued when you suspect that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) will form in the next 48 hours. So this means “there is a possibility, let’s keep watching but let’s prepare and start taking precautions”.

A hurricane warning is issued when you expect  hurricane conditions develop in the next 36 hours. Therefore, a hurricane warning is issued within 36 hours. This means “it is going to happen, let’s take more aggressive precautions and let’s evacuate”.

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If you learned something in this article, please share. Make sure you subscribe to be notified of my next blog post: “Here is What People Truly die of during Hurricanes”.

Additional resources to keep you informed:

  1. Wikipedia (has almost everything)
  2. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/cyclone.html
  3. https://www.skepticalscience.com/hurricanes-global-warming.htm

Have you ever experienced a hurricane, a tropical cyclone, a tropical depression or a typhoon? Please let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 


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