Disaster Appeal: Hurricane Recovery 2018

Publish date September 11, 2018

Last August, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston and the surrounding area and the damage was extraordinary. Then Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the US and British Virgin Islands, and to a lesser degree, Puerto Rico. By the time Hurricane Maria caused such catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico, it was hard to believe so much devastation was possible in so little time. We now know that casualties from Hurricane Maria were grossly under reported, and that Puerto Rico may never return to the way it was before the storm.

Unfortunately, a hurricane season like 2017 is likely to be our new normal. Experts have found that we can now expect heavier rainfall, stronger winds, and more severe flooding with most hurricanes due to climate change. This is exactly what we’re expecting when Florence makes landfall.

For the foreseeable future, we will begin raising funds each year when the first damaging hurricanes begin, and will continue accepting funds through November 15. (Though hurricane season lasts until November 30th, hurricanes rarely form after November 15th. Any funds received after November 15 will be used to support the HDR program’s ongoing expenses.)

Funds will be used for HDR beneficiary grants and/or for the Humanist Disaster Recovery (HDR) program in order to enable volunteer deployments in hurricane-affected areas. As always, FBB’s goal is to maximize donated dollars to be as effective as possible, and potential grantees undergo a thorough vetting process to ensure they are secular, efficient, and fiscally sound.

We as humanists can no longer afford to wait passively for hurricanes to devastate under-resourced communities one-by-one. We must be proactive in our efforts to gather the resources we’ll need to assist with recovery efforts. Your help is needed. We can’t do this without you.

Please give now to our 2018 Hurricane Recovery Appeal to help the communities most in need as quickly as possible during hurricane season.

The hurricanes/typhoons currently being monitored and considered for recovery funding are listed below.

Hurricane Willa

Tuesday, October 23 — Today, Hurricane Willa is a category 4 hurricane and when it hits Mexico’s west coast this afternoon or evening it is expected to be the one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Pacific coast. The National Hurricane Center is predicting life-threatening storm surges and torrential rain where it hits land predicted to be just north of Puerto Vallarta and may cause dangerous flash flooding and landslides. Willa formed Saturday and strengthened quickly becoming a category 5 briefly on Monday. Willa strengthening to a major hurricane means 2018 is tied with 1992 for most major hurricanes in the northeast Pacific in one season. More and more quickly strengthening hurricanes are an expected consequence of warmer ocean waters as a result of climate change.


Hurricane Michael

Update, Tuesday, October 23 — Hurricane Michael has caused least 54 deaths— 39 in the US and 15 in Central America. Damages in the US are estimated between $8 and $11 billion, including approximately $3.7 billion losses in the agriculture and lumber industries alone. Mexico Beach and Panama City in the Florida panhandle incurred the worst damage experiencing strong winds and high storm surges. Michael continued its destructive path through Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina.


Update, Saturday, October 11 — Michael was already a deadly storm having killed at least 13 in Central America before hitting the Florida panhandle yesterday as a category four hurricane. When Michael reached Georgia it was still a hurricane–category three. In the US at least two people have died. With rescue teams heading out today the death toll in the US is expected to rise. The hurricane intensified in the Gulf of Mexico because of unusually warm waters. Apalachicola, FL reported an 7.7ft storm surge.

Michael remained a hurricane as it headed inland and tropical storm conditions are expected in Georgia and the Carolinas through today. In parts of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, including areas already impacted by Florence, up to 9 inches may fall triggering flash flooding.

Update, Monday, October 8 — Tropical Storm Michael is expected to make landfall in the US this week. Current models for Michael show it hitting the gulf coast of Florida Wednesday as a Category 2 Hurricane. Michael is then expected to continue heading northeast, weakening to a tropical storm, and hitting some of the same area that Hurricane Florence flooded just a few weeks ago. This is a shift today from previous models that had it hitting farther west. Florida has declared a state of emergency and residents are being told to prepare.

Hurricane Florence

Update, Monday, October 8 — Florence is the wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the Carolinas with a record 35.93 inches of rain in Elizabethtown. At least 53 direct and indirect deaths can be attributed to Florence. In many places flood waters reached record heights and hundreds of people required rescue. On September 18th, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture stated that 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs died in the flooding with dozens of farms still cut off with animals unable to be fed. Hog manure lagoons flooded creating environmental health concerns across the region. It is estimated that Florence was 8-9% bigger and rain was 50% greater as a result of climate change. 

Update, Saturday, September 15 — At least 5 people have already died and millions are without power as a result of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in Wrightville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday, September 14. Much of North Carolina is experiencing torrential rain and life-threatening flooding.

Florence is expected to stall and dump up to 50 inches in North Carolina through the weekend, and surrounding states may see record rainfall as well. Rescue operations are underway in places like New Bern where hundreds of people were rescued from the rising water Friday. Damages are currently estimated to be between 10 and 60 billion. 


Typhoon Mangkhut

Update, Monday, October 8 — As of September 23rd 134 deaths have been attributed to Mangkhut, including 127 in the Philippines, 6 in China, and 1 in Taiwan with over a hundred still missing. Most of the deaths in the Philippines were a result of landslides including 80 deaths at one collapsed mine. As of October 5th, the damage in the Philippines is estimated at $627 million USD.

Update, Saturday, September 15 — Typhoon Mangkhut is being called the worst typhoon of the year. On Saturday, September 15, Mangkhut made landfall at Baggao town in Cagayan in the Philippines, where it is known as Typhoon Ompong. At least 14 people have died, 42 landslides have been reported, and power and communication lines are down. The region is an important food producing region in the Philippines and harvest season has just begun. Mangkhut is expected to continue on to hit China’s southern coast and Hong Kong this weekend, where preparations are underway.



The HDR program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association (AHA). We thank AHA for their generous support of our efforts.