Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

7 Ways You Can Help Hurricane Irma Victims

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Want to assist Hurricane Irma victims? Instead of raiding your closets and pantries for clothing, food, and blankets, the Center for International Disaster Information recommends donating cash, rather than material goods, to carefully vetted relief organizations. Or, consider donating your time by either opening your home to evacuees or helping to rebuild ravaged towns and cities. Here are just a few ways you can lend a hand.

1. HELP PUERTO RICO REBUILD HOMES.

Hundreds of Puerto Rico residents lost their homes in the storm, and many have been stranded without power. Local nonprofit ConPRmetidos is raising money to rebuild houses and provide on-the-ground relief and aid to hurricane victims.

2. SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS IN BOTH THE CARIBBEAN AND THE U.S.

Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization based in Springfield, Missouri, is sending food, water, and emergency supplies to Hurricane Irma survivors in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, and continues to support Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Donate $10 to their #HurricaneIrma response by texting "IRMA" to 50555.

3. LIST YOUR HOME ON AIRBNB.

Homeowners in the Florida Panhandle, northern Georgia, and northwest and southeast South Carolina can open their doors to Irma evacuees and relief workers for free by marking them available on Airbnb's Irma page until September 28, 2017.

4. VOLUNTEER WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY.

Good with a hammer, and want to help out for the long haul? Sign up on Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry, or donate to help rebuild homes destroyed by Irma.

5. DONATE TO THE FLORIDA DISASTER FUND.

Irma weakened into a tropical storm as it tore through Florida, but cities are still flooded, and millions are now without power. The Florida Disaster Fund, which is the State of Florida’s official private disaster recovery fund, accepts donations for response and recovery efforts, and also has a list of resources (including open shelters) available online. 

6. HELP ANIMALS BY DONATING TO THE SOUTH FLORIDA WILDLIFE CENTER.

Support injured or orphaned animals by donating to the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, which is billed as the nation’s highest-volume wildlife hospital, trauma center, and rehabilitation facility.

7. GIVE TO THE UNITED WAY.

The United Way of Miami-Dade is requesting donations on behalf of the support organization's locations in all hurricane-ravaged areas. Relief funds can be directed to either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey.

JUST REMEMBER...

Donations often pour in right in the aftermath of a natural disaster, but charities are still going to need your long-term financial support as afflicted communities continue to recover from Irma. Consider giving money over the course of a few weeks or months, instead of just a one-time payment.

And before donating, vet the credentials of nonprofits on websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar (although they may not list smaller, community-based organizations). In this case, the Federal Trade Commission has a list of tips for giving. They include never sending cash or wiring money, doing some background research on the organization, and even calling them if necessary.

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The Tiny Government Office That Will Replace Your Ripped, Burned, and Chewed-Up Cash
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Cash is designed to be sturdier than regular paper, but it isn't indestructible. A fire, flood, or hungry pet could be all it takes to reduce your emergency savings to a ruined heap of scraps. But just because a bank will no longer accept that money doesn't mean it's worthless. As Great Big Story explains in the video below, there's an entire division of the U.S. Department of Treasury dedicated to reimbursing people for damaged cash.

The Mutilated Currency Division processes roughly 23,000 cases a year, paying out about $40 million annually to replace bills that are no longer fit for circulation. It accepts money in any condition—the only requirement is that the claim must include at least 51 percent of the original note, to avoid reimbursing someone twice for the same bill.

After someone submits a claim for damaged cash, the team examines the bills with scalpels, tweezers, knives, or whatever other tools are necessary to go through the stacks and verify just how much money is there. Bills arrive in varying states: Some have been clumped together and petrified by water, charred in ovens, or chewed up by insects. In one infamous case, a farmer sent in the whole stomach of the cow that had swallowed his wallet.

Once the office processes the claim, it issues a reimbursement check for that amount, and the unusable money is officially taken out of circulation. But the U.S. government finds other uses for that ruined cash. For example, over 4 tons of old currency are mulched at a farm in Delaware every day.

You can watch the full video from Great Big Story below to learn more.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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Iceland Named Safest Country in the World for the 11th Year in a Row
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iStock

Each year, an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace analyzes the political situation in 163 countries to come up with the Global Peace Index, a ranking of how peaceful different regions of the world are. As Business Insider reports, for the 11th year in a row, Iceland took the top spot in the 2018 rankings, making it officially the most peaceful country on Earth.

According to the institute’s rankings, which take into account factors like government functioning, levels of corruption, violent crime rates, incarceration rates, terrorist attacks, weapons imports and exports, and military expenditures, Europe is the safest region in the world. Six of the top 10 safest countries in the world are located in Europe—Iceland (No. 1), Austria (No. 3), Portugal (No. 4), Denmark (No. 5), the Czech Republic (No. 7), and Ireland (No. 10). New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and Japan also made the top 10 list.

A ranking of the top-ranking countries on the peace index
Institute for Economics and Peace

A color-coded map showing the state of peace in each country
Institute for Economics and Peace

Overall, the report found that as a whole, global levels of peace have fallen for the fourth year in a row. Ninety-two countries have seen their rankings fall, while 71 countries improved their standing.

The U.S. was one of those 71 countries that moved up in the rankings, but overall, it had a pretty poor showing. Though Americans may see their homeland as a relatively safe place, by the institute’s rankings, it’s not even in the top 100 safest countries in the world. It ranks 121st, up one spot from last year. The report cites increasing political polarization, the presence of nuclear weapons, high rates of incarceration, weapons exports, and involvement in external conflicts as some of the factors that have kept the U.S.’s score low. On the bright side, the report notes that the country’s homicide rates have fallen substantially over the last decade.

Contrast that with our Nordic friend Iceland. While Iceland has a relatively high rate of gun ownership—“access to small arms” is one of the negative factors the index analyzes—it also has some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world. The country doesn’t have a military force, and police deploy weapons so infrequently that it made international news when, in 2013, Icelandic police shot a man to death for the first time in the country’s history as an independent republic. Most of the police force isn’t even armed. And, of course, the government takes elves' wishes into account while building new roads. (OK, maybe the report didn't include the elf factor in its analysis.)

Sounds like it's time to move to Iceland.

Read the whole report here.

[h/t Business Insider]

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