When Hurricane Michael made landfall on
Then the storm continued northward, causing flooding in
I've been traveling throughout the Florida
Most of this support garnered within 11 months of the storm is coming from or being channeled through organizations within this part of
Causing massive damageEven after getting
Many of the region's largest employers, including forestry companies and
But unless you live nearby, this may come as a surprise. Michael garnered less attention from the media and donors than the other storms that also caused damage on a massive scale, such as Harvey and Maria in 2017 and 2018.
Giving after the stormThe gravity and force of this hurricane, which
That may explain why Americans didn't donate as much to support relief and recovery efforts following this disaster as they did a year earlier.
For example, the
Studying Hurricane MichaelThe aftermath of other big storms like Sandy and Katrina have made it clear that the recovery process takes years to complete, with the burden falling on local nonprofits once the sense of urgency outside the immediate area dissipates.
In the largely rural
The donations, which include cash, services, supplies and volunteer labor, add up to about
Nearly all of the funding is coming from organizations with a local presence.
Playing a critical roleAnother reason why recovering from disasters takes so long is that relatively few post-disaster government programs serve renters, homeowners without clear property titles or the homeless. That leaves big gaps for charity to fill.
And when communities don't get much in the way of donations after disasters, they have trouble meeting the needs of their most vulnerable. This is made worse by poor targeting and coordination of aid that can leave out rural or remote communities.
Donations come with fewer restrictions than government programs, giving nonprofits more flexibility. They tend to arrive quickly and do not need to wait on the government to appropriate money.
Throughout my research in a string of beach towns and rural inland communities along a stretch west and south of
Everyone my students and I spoke with relayed multiple stories of how neighbors helped one another and how this generosity made the disaster recovery quicker and more bearable.
Being generous after disastersThe aftermath of Hurricane Michael shows how when public attention outside the region experiencing a disaster is minimal, it can lead to lower levels of donations.
As a result, I've seen people in the region feel overlooked and forced to rely on themselves. Fortunately, the post-disaster generosity of residents, neighbors and friends was more extensive than is immediately visible. Still, the region faces a long struggle to full recovery and cannot be certain the resources available with be enough.
From this example, I have two main suggestions for those wishing to help support survivors of disasters reevaluate how they choose to respond.
First, consider helping after overlooked disasters. That includes the ones that don't draw saturation media coverage, and those that occur on the heels of other tragedies that ushered in big donation drives. That's what happened with Hurricane Maria, which crashed into
Second, consider waiting before you give, or repeating your gift later. Try donating six months, a year or even two years after a disaster rather than right away because the need will continue for a long time. Not rushing also makes it easier to identify the best nonprofits to support.
Making choices like these may bring hope and assistance to communities seeing too little of both.
[ Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation's newsletter and get a digest of academic takes on today's news, every day. ]
This article is republished from The Conversation under a
This story originally published to The Conversation, and was shared to other
(c)2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.