As the northeastern portion of the United States continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many are looking to help the victims out in their time of need. But Hoosiers need to do it in the right way, because if we don't, we could be compounding the problem.
First, beware of scammers, particularly those collecting money by soliciting on the phone. Tragedies such as the victims have endured; seem to bring scammers out of the woodwork. Use caution it is recommended using well-established charities for your donations.
If you want to go help you must go through channels through the State of Indiana. Indiana is a member of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). It is best to wait until specific people with skills are called for. When responders from the outside report to an area to assist, their need for food, water, shelter, among other things also must be met, which compounds an already stressed system. At this time the areas hit may not have the ability to meet the responders' needs.
As for sending relief supplies, one may be sending items not needed, which could go to waste. Sending cash donations, at this point, to national established charities is best.
"Cash is best," said Steve Cain, Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network homeland security project director. "It is better to donate cash instead of goods because local responders can more readily convert that into what's needed."
Also sending trucks with supplies independently outside of the coordinated relief effort, trying to get to affected areas will only get in the way and tie-up emergency service vehicles. If not part of the coordinated relief effort, self-deployed trucks or people could be turned back. Any local relief effort must be coordinated by EMAC through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Many times well-intended efforts have been wasted because there was not a need and items donated did not get to the victims. For now the best thing is to send a cash donation to charities you know.
Wait until specific items are called for and then donate through channels. In time, there will be many opportunities to help that will be more effective.
It is not to discourage anyone from helping victims, just encouraging those to do so in the right way so that the needs of the victims are met.