Ad-hoc disaster relief groups are forming to bring much-needed help and supplies to disaster-stricken areas.
Good old-fashioned American initiative often kicks in after natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma or the California wildfires, when regular citizens form their own ad-hoc relief organizations alongside established players like FEMA and the Red Cross. “It’s a very common phenomenon for new organizations to pop up during disasters,” says Bob Ottenhoff, who heads the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. It’s hard enough to marshal resources in your own county or state, like the “Cajun Navy” of volunteers rescuing stranded Houstonians by boat. Now groups founded in the wake of Harvey and Irma have crossed 1,000 miles of ocean to devastated Puerto Rico. (They are also organizing efforts for the U.S. Virgin Islands.)