As the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, some communities are also battling the biggest disasters they’ve ever seen. Learn how local nonprofits are responding with relief and real solutions for a stronger future.
This year has brought earth-shattering quakes, the busiest hurricane season ever, disastrous flooding and wildfires, chemical explosions, and of course, a global pandemic. Through the most damaging disasters of 2020, nonprofits have stood by their communities.
Here’s how six nonprofits are meeting the year’s challenges with a community-led response:
1. Laying the foundation of long-term recovery
Chaos and destruction marked the early days of 2020 for Puerto Ricans after a series of powerful earthquakes shook the small islands. The quakes displaced more than 7,500 people as communities were still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017 without promised disaster aid. Over the past three years, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico has worked tirelessly to urge the housing department to reconsider rules that slow recovery. After ramping up efforts in light of recent disasters, the team celebrated a series of legal wins this fall. One success was an executive order that waived title requirements for people waiting to rebuild their homes. Amid COVID-19 restrictions, Ayuda’s team still managed to provide direct legal support to more than 2,800 people and gave 1.2 million legal education. Learn more.
2. Giving wildlife a second chance
Relentless fires burned through every state in Australia, destroying up to 40 million hectares of land and killing at least 33 people since the start of the fire season in July 2019. Experts estimate that as many as 3 billion koalas, kangaroos, and other native Australian animals were killed or displaced by bushfires in 2019 and 2020. Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife jumped into action to restore scorched ecosystems. After initially focusing their efforts on wildlife rescue, the team moved into the second phase: complete restoration and regeneration of every fire-impacted state. The foundation is directly investing in community projects to conserve native plants, expand nest boxes for wildlife to thrive, and investigate the impact of climate change on local ecosystems. Learn more.
3. Rebuilding after the blasts
The Beirut port explosions topped the list of most damaging disasters in 2020 and the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history. The blasts tore through buildings for miles, killing more than 200 people. To help the residents of Beirut recover after the blasts, Anera focused on their immediate needs like medical supplies and food. Although the organization initially struggled to secure medical supplies due to the unusable port and high air transport costs, donors chipped in to deliver life-saving medicines to families in need. Anera also used their team’s knowledge of construction and social work to support some of the hardest-hit communities, including Karantina and Borj Hammoud. Learn more.
4. Fueling first responders and survivors
The 2020 wildfire season was the worst recorded in California’s modern history, with more than 9,200 fires, 31 fatalities, and 4 million acres—roughly 4% of the state’s land—scorched. Exhausted first responders and impacted families sought support from World Central Kitchen, which quickly established relief kitchens and food delivery programs across northern California and Oregon. In the span of 24 days, WCK served 1 million meals in 82 cities. The organization intends to build on this momentum and continue working with local restaurants and meal delivery companies to provide affordable meals to those who need them most. Learn more.
5. Providing essentials in the aftermath of a powerful storm
On the last night of October, the strongest typhoon of the season brought torrential rains, violent winds, and mudslides to the Philippines’ largest island, Luzon. Some 82,900 people remain displaced amid the coronavirus pandemic. Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation is working around the clock to deliver food packages, sleeping mats, blankets, and hygiene kits to 600 affected families in the municipalities of Tiwi, San Narciso, and Mulanay. The foundation also gave every family a two-week food package that provided all of their daily nutrients so families could focus on their health and recovery instead of finding their next meal. Learn more.
6. Lending a hand amid back-to-back hurricanes
Hurricane Eta left a devastating trail of widespread flooding and damage across Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, and other Central American countries before inundating roads and knocking out power in Florida. As the death toll rises, it’s becoming clear that Indigenous communities are bearing the brunt of Eta’s blow. Hurricane Iota hit Honduras just two weeks later as the 29th named hurricane of the season. When Iota made landfall, Fundación Fondo Unido Honduras was already on the ground helping survivors of Eta access food, hygiene, shelter, and other essentials. The team extended their efforts to survivors of Iota and will continue supporting those communities as the floodwaters recede and the recovery continues. Learn more.
Support people who survived the most damaging disasters of 2020 through GlobalGiving.