By Emily Peters
Contributing Writer

Hurricane season is always a gamble, but 2017 has been particularly brutal. Since the season began, the Atlantic has whipped up no fewer than 21 tropical storms—but Harvey, Irma and Maria have shaken us to the core.

For travel professionals in particular, it’s gut-wrenching to see locations we love struggle. Here are some ways you can help the people of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and others affected by the aftermath of Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Send aid.

Though the worst some of these hurricanes hit over a month ago, the tremendous extent of damage means the recovery and rebuilding process will last much longer. Click the links below to find organizations accepting donations to supplement this tremendous need.

  1. Hurricane Harvey – Local and National Organizations. The New York Times has supplied a list of multiple charities addressing shelter, food, animal care, health care, rebuilding homes and much more.
  2. Hurricane Irma – Local and National Organizations. While it can be tricky to tell how much of your donation will go towards aid vs. overhead, the organization Charity Navigator helps to profile some of the top rated charities rated by key data points. Donate to one or several to aid our Caribbean brothers and sisters struggling in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
  3. Hurricane Maria – Local and National Organizations. Hurricane Maria bulldozed through many islands already pounded by Irma. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, was one of the hardest hit and is currently battling a massive humanitarian crisis. Though the logistics of getting existing aid to the island evolves, the need for donations remains.

Give blood.

Restricted access to clean water, adequate food, warmth, light, wound care and more post many health threats to hurricane victims, not to mention pollution, mold and disease from receding flood waters and the toll on mental health. Donate blood at your local hospital, America’s Blood, American Red Cross, Armed Services Blood Program or Google local blood drives in your respective city.

Volunteer to clean up, distribute aid and rebuild.

The joy of travel resides not in a jumble of buildings or vistas, but in the people that shape its culture. Show solidarity with the destinations you sell by volunteering your time to help clean up and rebuild.

  1. Hurricane Harvey – see volunteer opportunities with American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army or check with local churches and human services organizations in your city for outreach events.
  2. Hurricane Irma – see volunteer opportunities in Florida and the Caribbean with Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, Volunteer Florida, Habitat for Humanity and NVOAD (see below).
  3. Hurricane Maria – In addition to those national organizations listed above, see volunteer efforts in Puerto Rico with NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). You can even volunteer as a truck driver, a critical need as supplies arrive on the island.

Keep selling.

Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Island, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Cuba, the Bahamas, Cape Verde, Turks and Caicos and more—so many areas have been affected by these storms. As travel professionals, we’re in a unique position to contribute to their recovery. Instead of mourning the damage to these areas, continue to fund their resurgence by sending travelers to safe areas during their recovery. Though more storms will come, together we can help the victims of Harvey, Irma and Maria see their areas restored. Good selling!

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