DePaul Business Professor Explains How to Help in Hurricane Relief Efforts
In recent weeks, two massive storms devastated parts of the U.S. and Central America. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma killed more than 70 people and displaced thousands. According to CNN, Moody’s Analytics expects that the total amount of damage will exceed $150 billion, which is on par with the cost of the much deadlier Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Following the storms, efforts have turned to rebuilding the parts of Florida and Texas that have been affected, and helping those who are most in need. DePaul University Associate Professor Nezih Altay recently explained what is most necessary for hurricane relief to be effective.
Altay teaches in DePaul’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program and researches disruption management and humanitarian supply chains. According to his bio page, Altay currently serves as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Humanitarian Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and Senior Editor of Production and Operations Management. Altay advises against sending unsolicited goods such as old clothing and toys to affected areas.
“These items will simply take away from already scarce resources because someone needs to receive, sort, and store these items,” he said. “It takes hands, time and space to do all that.
Altay says that affected communities—and the responders tending to them—will need food, water, medical attention initially. In addition to that, skilled labor will be necessary for weeks to come.
“After a disaster, technical expertise—such as IT, construction, medical services, etc.—as well as labor are in high demand mainly because a lot of people need help at the same time that some of the locals are stuck or busy attending the needs of their own families,” Atlay said.
Above all, Atlay believes that when it comes to helping the relief effort, cash is king. He encourages anyone who wants to help to donate cash and donate it to the organizations that you trust.
“The best thing to donate is cash. Cash is flexible, and response agencies and humanitarian organizations can buy whatever is needed with cash. Cash also does not take up time, labor and space,” he said. “Furthermore, when you donate cash, items like clothing, toys, etc., can be purchased, injecting money into the local economy and helping the community recover.