What A Lost Eagle Nest Taught Me About Responsible Disaster Relief.
6 insights about post-disaster “aid” and helping hands.
A massive, nesting tree toppled. Two bald eagles lost their home.
That tree stood more than 100 years, the base widening to nearly four feet.
We tromped to the spot. The nest was shattered; nothing recognizable in the jumble.
For years, every time we passed the tree — whether in nesting season or not — we’d cast our gaze up to comment.
In somber moments, I look at the empty spot where it towered. I’m stalled.
It has begun to symbolize something enormous.
The lost nest reminds me that countless other households across our nation have been toppled. Hurricanes. Mudslides. Forest fires. The Pandemic.
And I’m sure I’m missing more than a few other mind-numbing, life-altering circumstances.
Those eagles will rebuild somewhere. We won’t be able to help them, directly. But we can interact with the Audubon Society and Montana Fish & Wildlife to ensure their new nest is marked, monitored, and protected.
Similarly there are ravaged lives elsewhere that we can touch, through known charities.
Before nesting season, I want our family to lend a hand, responsibly. New homes are possible, through the hands of neighbors and strangers. A father, mother, and 3rd grader will join those hands.
Meanwhile, we walk the river path…
The snow-covered land is still. Frozen. Silent.
Suddenly, the air is buffeted. Powerful wings swoop behind us. River-hunting, the birds’ determined cry is jolting. It reverberates.
Then the eagle glides beyond the bend.
TAKE ACTION: 6 insights about post-disaster “help” and ways to responsibly offer helping hands.
The challenges of empathy and the urge to “help” after a natural disaster are weighty. Yet help that actually helps, takes some specific forms.
(1) SEND FUNDS. The best way to help natural disaster survivors is with a financial gift to credible organizations that already have a strong presence in the impacted community. What’s more, organizations like the Salvation Army even waive administrative fees when a major disaster strikes. That means 100% of your donation goes to those who need it.
(2) GIVE BLOOD. In the wake of natural disasters, road travel is often hazardous, preventing regular donors from giving and canceling scheduled blood drives. Yet there’s often increased demand for blood from hospitals. Contact the Red Cross. Regularly put that needle in your arm and donate blood.
(3) RESPONSIBLY DONATE STUFF. Don’t just send what you think survivors need. Unsolicited donations can cause more problems. Sorting through, cleaning, and distributing goods can be costly and divert time and resources from more urgent needs. Check with the United Way to see if they’re currently accepting donations of goods before organizing, collecting, or sending anything.
(4) VOLUNTEER TIME. You may want to roll out and help. But wait. Don’t self-deploy. You may add to the chaos. Instead, synch up with an organization like Volunteer Match. Before volunteering, let a professional assess the situation and your skills.
(5) LEARN FROM JIMMY CARTER. Rosalynn & Jimmy Carter have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for more than 35 years. Follow their example. Relief and recovery needs will last long after the storm passes and media coverage ends. You can have a huge impact by contributing to organizations like Habitat over time.
(6) BECOME AN ANGEL. If you want to become part of a new solution, invest in innovative startups and next-generation disaster relief solutions that need angel investor dollars. Examples abound. Here’s a TED talk technology solution by two sisters who survived a tornado. And sadly, here’s a brilliant TEDster housing idea that died on the vine.
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