Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief

God of healing and mercy, we come before you with our hearts filled with grief as we see the devastation.
We pray that your presence would be felt by those who are grieving, who are injured, who have lost their homes and livelihoods.
We pray for wisdom and safety for those who are responding to the people in need and the many challenges left in the wake of the event.
We pray for our church, that it may be a witness to your compassion and care for all who suffer.
God, you are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. For this we give you thanks and ask that you hear our prayers for those hurting in this time of trouble.
Adapted from a prayer of the Mennonite World Conference for the people of Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.


As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we are people of faith and believe that one way to offer support for our brothers and sisters in need is through prayer. Offering prayers for a community that is in distress alleviates the difficulties spiritually, but often times we want to do something more physically, such as providing monetary assistance. Here are tips from Charity Navigator, a website that helps donors make smart decisions in donating. Some organizations often end up being scams, so Charity Navigator provides a list of reputable organizations to give to. The site’s article, “Tips for Giving in Times of Crisis,” can assist and educate donors on what to do and not do when considering assisting a community that has been struck by disaster. We’ve included a few tips on our website, and encourage you to read the whole article before giving.

Give To An Established Charity
Don’t let an unscrupulous charity take advantage of your goodwill. Find a charity with a proven track record of success with dealing with the type of disaster and in the region in which the disaster occurred. Avoid fly-by-night charities created specifically to deal with the new crisis. Even well-meaning new organizations will not have the infrastructure and knowledge of the region to efficiently maximize your gift. If you do feel compelled to give to a new charity, be sure to get proof that the group is in fact a registered public charity with 501 (c) (3) status.

Do Not Send Supplies
Knowing that people are desperately in need of basic supplies like food, water and shelter, it is hard not to want to pack up and send a box of supplies. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to an impacted region, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.

Seek Out the Charity’s Authorized Website
Criminals are likely to set up bogus sites to steal the identity and money of generous and unsuspecting individuals. We saw this after Hurricane Katrina when the FBI reported that 4,000 sites were created to do just that. So, if you plan to give online, be sure to find the charity’s legitimate site. You can safely give on Charity Navigator’s site via our partnership with Network for Good.

2017 Disaster Relief

Hurricane Season 

Hurricane Maria, September 2017- On Monday, September 18, Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island of Dominica as a full-force Category 5 Hurricane, according to a report from The Guardian. Maria then moved on to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, where it hit as a Category 4 Hurricane, the strongest hurricane to hit the territory in more than 80 years. In the wake of the storm’s devastation, 100% of the territory is without power, according to a New York Times report. Power outages could last as long as four to six months there. As Maria moved on from Puerto Rico, the Hurricane hit the U.S. Virgin Islands hard (especially St. Thomas and St. Croix). As of Thursday morning, September 21, Maria has reached the Dominican Republic as a Category 3 Hurricane and is expected to maintain its strength–if not increase–when it reaches the Bahamas on Friday. Impacts in the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and Southeast Bahamas include torrential rainfall — widespread totals of 8 to 16 inches with up to 20 inches in the high elevations. This could lead to deadly flash flooding and mudslides in the mountainous areas of Hispaniola, according to a Washington Post report. Currently, 17 people are dead and 20 are missing throughout the Caribbean, due to Maria’s wrath.

  • You can learn more about Hurricane Maria here and here
  • Catholic Relief Services is one of the leading organizations providing aid to the Caribbean Islands, Haiti, the Dominican republic and Cuba as they recover from the impact of Hurricane Maria. Partnering with Caritas Antilles, CRS has staff on the ground ready to provide shelter, water and critical supplies, including tarps, tents, and hygiene and kitchen kits to families affected. You can support their work here.
  • World Vision staff are on the ground in the Dominican Republic providing important supplies such as water, food, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, cleaning supplies, and other items such as mattresses, tents, tarpaulin sheets, and rope to those impacted by Maria. You can make donations to their relief efforts here.

Hurricane Irma, August-September 2017- Since September 19, Hurricane Irma is responsible for the deaths of at least 42 people in Florida (and this number keeps climbing) and 44 in the Caribbean, according to reports from the Miami Herald and CNN. At one point, Hurricane Irma was the strongest hurricane the National Hurricane Center has ever recorded in the Atlantic outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico; it was moving as a Category 5 storm. Irma hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane and later the mainland as a Category 3. It was the strongest storm to hit Florida since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is estimated that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are responsible for the deaths of 200 people in the Caribbean and Southern United States.

  • You can learn more about Hurricane Irma and its devastation here  and here
  • The American Red Cross continues to provide shelter and resources to those impacted by Irma. You can contribute to their relief efforts here.
  • Catholic Relief Services is one of the leading organizations providing aid to the Caribbean Islands that were hardest hit by Irma, as well as to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. You can support their work here.
  • World Vision is providing recovery support both nationally and internationally. You can make donation to support their work here.

Hurricane Harvey, August 2017- When Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25, it was the strongest storm to impact the United States in twelve years. The brunt of the hurricane hit Corpus Christi, Houston, and Rockport before slowly downgrading to a tropical storm. Despite Harvey’s strength weakening, what made this tropical storm so devastating, according to The New York Times, was that it stalled over some of Texas’ most populous cities–from Corpus Christi to Houston on the coast, and inland to Austin and San Antonio–and continuously dumped rain on them, with Houston being of the hardest hit. To make matters worse, many of Houston’s residents were caught off-guard by the flooding, as the city did not post evacuation warnings. By the time the storm ends later this week, some areas will have seen an estimated 50 inches of rainfall.

  • You can learn more about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey here and here.
  • American Red Cross has set up shelters for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and mobilized truck loads of supplies, meals and volunteers. Donations to the Red Cross to help those affected by Harvey can be made online, or text HARVEY to 90999.
  • The Houston SPCA:  http://ow.ly/WyH330eNaXb
    • Accepting monetary donations to aid in rescuing stranded animals affected by Hurricane Harvey
  • The San Antonio Humane Society: http://ow.ly/sPd830eNbqg
    • Accepting monetary donations to help shelter stranded pets and stray animals


Past Disasters

October 2016 – As of October 10, Hurricane Matthew has devastated Haiti, taking the lives of over 800 according to CNN. Homes have been ruined and local organizations are looking to help those affected.

  • One of the organizations keeping us updated is the cooperative, Just Haiti, from whom we get our coffee in the SCSJ. 100% of donations Just Haiti receives will be earmarked for direct relief post Hurricane Matthew. No money will be kept for administration costs. As the damage is assessed, the growers associations will work within their communities to organize reforestation, replanting of crops, and other projects to help the Haitians get back on their feet. http://justhaiti.org/about-us/donate/
  • Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest micro finance institution, offers a program of poverty alleviation for women and families in Haiti. They will be reaching out to the 420 center chiefs from Haiti’s six most affected branches (Okoto, Okay, Aken, Ti Rivye d’Nip, Bomon and Jeremi) to better understand the impact of Hurricane Matthew particularly on loan clients. This area represents an estimated 15,000 borrowers and many more with savings accounts.Throughout the country, Fonkoze clients rely on the micro finance institute to be fully operational to begin the work of recovery. They are accepting donations to further Haiti’s recovery. http://www.fonkoze.org
    • Partners In Health has a mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. The organization strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair. They are accepting donations to help the 1 million people in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew.http://www.pih.org

August 2016 – As of August 22, the flooding in Louisiana has claimed 13 lives and left about 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Many local organizations are looking for funding or resources to help those in the affected areas.

    • American Red Cross said more than 1,000 of its disaster volunteers have been mobilized from across the U.S. to help with relief efforts. Evacuated residents are also taking refuge in Red Cross shelters. They are also sending ready to eat meals and trailers filled with shelter and kitchen supplies (http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp)
      • Sending food , water, and cleaning supplies
    • United Way of Southeast Louisiana http://www.unitedwaysela.org/
      • Accepting Donations for toiletries, cleaning kits, infant products, pet products
      • American Red Cross said more than 1,000 of its disaster volunteers have been mobilized from across the U.S. to help with relief efforts. Evacuated residents are also taking refuge in Red Cross shelters. They are also sending ready to eat meals and trailers filled with shelter and kitchen supplies (http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp)
      •  Second Harvest Food bank  http://no-hunger.org/ways-give/
        • Sending food , water, and cleaning supplies
    • More local information and possible organizations to support: http://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2016/08/baton_rouge_flooding_new_orlea.html

August 2016 – According to the Los Angeles Times, as of August 2016, there have been more than 4,900 wildfires this year in the state of California burning more than 417,000 acres. Some of the larger fires currently burning include the Soberanes fire near Big Sur, the Chimney fire, and the Blue Cut fire. The Red Cross is helping victims in the local areas affected by fire damage.

July 2016 - According to the Weather Channel, the widespread flooding in West Virginia has claimed 23 lives, left thousands homeless, and prompted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare a federal disaster.

Reputable charities we recommend donating to for West Virginia Flood relief include:

For other crises that come up throughout the year, a list of reputable organizations we recommend (depending on the area of need):

Lists of organizations will continue to be updated.