Many of the millions of people affected by the record-setting rains and unprecedented flooding from the hurricanes that slammed into Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the southeastern United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, desperately need our help.
That’s why AARP, with the support of its members and AARP Foundation, created relief funds to aid the victims of Harvey and Irma. AARP and AARP Foundation matched — dollar for dollar — contributions equaling $2 million. Victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will also receive island-specific funds.
Working with our state offices in the affected areas, we directed 100 percent of all funds donated to organizations providing relief and recovery support to the disaster victims.
Our state offices in the affected localities are also working with officials to be a source of information about relief efforts and to connect them with AARP volunteers who can provide critical help to isolated individuals living in their communities.
AARP has a long history in aiding victims of natural disasters at home and abroad, especially older adults who often face additional challenges. In recent years, more than $5 million from AARP Foundation’s disaster relief funds have supported victims of the Oklahoma tornado, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Superstorm Sandy, and disasters in Nepal, the Philippines and Haiti.
Natural disasters don’t discriminate by age, income, race, gender or anything else — they affect everyone and everything in their path. Yet many older adults and people with disabilities face unique challenges in dealing with such calamities.
Older persons live in a variety of settings. Some are in nursing homes, others in assisted living facilities. But the greatest number live independently, often on their own. Many have limited mobility, are incapacitated or suffer from chronic illness. Many more depend on medication for their survival. And those whose homes are destroyed have lost not only a place to live, but also their biggest source of retirement security as well.
With widespread power outages, disrupted public transportation, a lack of fresh water, and inoperable sewage and other systems, the most vulnerable older adults became even more disconnected from the vital supports and services they need just to survive.
And to make matters worse, these vulnerable older Americans are likely to become the victims of fraud, which unfortunately, often follows a disaster.
I urge you to consider making a donation to AARP’s ongoing relief efforts for victims of hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria. Every dollar will make a difference.
Jo Ann Jenkins is CEO of AARP.
To donate Go to aarpfoundation.org/Irma. Or send contributions to AARP Foundation, P.O. Box 93157, Long Beach, CA 90809-3157.