natural disaster

PSA: DO NOT DONATE TO THE RED CROSS

DO NOT DONATE TO THE RED CROSS. To be clear we are talking about the American Red Cross. As an organization they barely lift a finger to actually help people. When we lost pretty much everything to Hurricane Sandy they did absolutely nothing. It was only when officials started looking into the huge amount of donations the Red Cross got and question where they went that they started doing stuff. If you want to read more you can read a bit at the links below. There are a ton more articles out there that tell you why you shouldn’t donate to them.

http://www.npr.org/2014/12/04/368453320/red-cross-misstates-how-donors-dollars-are-spent

http://gawker.com/dont-donate-to-the-red-cross-1652192522

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/11/14/the-problem-with-the-red-cross-cont/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/staten-island-red-cross-hurricane-sandy_n_2065209.html

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2005/010905redcross.htm This link is from 2005! They’ve been doing this shit for a long time!

An average of 17 cents of every dollar donated goes to “fundraising expenses”. Then there’s vague back-end costs of “management and general expenses” that subtract even more off your donation. They take full advantage of the loopholes of their 501©(3) nonprofit status to pay their CEO and high-ranking paid employees a cushy salary as well.

Charity Navigator is a really good resource for determining if a charity is worth donating to. They rank charities on a bunch of things from transparency to accountability to how much of your donation actually reaches its destination. Charity Navigator has listed here some good organizations to donate to that ACTUALLY help and are already prepared to respond to Hurricane Patricia:

Convoy of Hope, Direct Relief, GlobalGiving, Heart to Heart International, International Medical Corps, MAP International, Medical Teams International, and Water Missions Hospital.

These are all rated much higher than the Red Cross. Direct Relief is highest rated. It has a grade of over 99 while the Red Cross has a grade of just under 81. Heart To Heart International and MAP International each have a grade of over 97.

I think it’s clear that these charities are all doing a lot better with your money than the Red Cross.

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: How to help

  • Phone number of the UNICEF Earthquake Emergency fund (1-877-955-3111). You can call them in North America and let them know you’d like to make a donation for the Nepal earthquake. 
  • UPDATE 1: If you would like to help, you can donate to GlobalGiving’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund 
  • UPDATE 2: You can also text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to donate $10 to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones. More info here.
  • You can also donate to The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) who is working with the Nepal Red Cross Society, marshaling resources from nearby countries to help earthquake victims. To donate to the IFRC’s disaster response, visit The International Federation of Red Cross
  • UPDATE 3: here are some other links where you can donate:
  • Save the Children
  • UNICEF (click donate to be taken to your country’s donation page)
  • CARE
  • Mercy Corps

*We will update this post with links and info in the following hours/days*

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In Focus: Typhoon Bopha

Last week, the southern Philippines was struck by Typhoon Bopha, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the island of Mindanao. Bopha made landfall as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), flattening coastal villages, wiping out banana plantations, and causing mudslides and flooding. At the moment, the number of deaths has reached nearly 650, the number of missing is still near 800, and another 400,000 have been displaced by the storm. Collected here are images from the affected islands, as rescue and recovery workers continue to search through debris in fields choked with trees, boulders, and mud. 

See more. [Images: Reuters, AP, Getty]

Click here for more information, or to donate to the Philippines Annual Monsoon and Typhoon Children in Emergency fund.

Hey guys, I’m a Washintonian. As you may have heard we’re currently having record seasonal wildfires. If you’ve never been here you might not know that a good portion of washington is actually composed of semi-arid desert. In particular north central, which is where the fires are causing the majority of damage. The communities that are being the most heavily affected are Okanogan, Twisp, Chelan, Wenatchee, and other north central towns and cities. The air quality statewide is horrendous; I live down in the southeast by Spokane and the air is barely breathable.

Washington State also has a number of Indigenous reservations, which are currently being disproportionately affected by the destruction of farmland and reduction in air quality that we’re currently seeing take place. Both the Spokane and Colville tribal communities are currently subject to evacuations due to the fact that a good half the state has suddenly decided to go up in flames. 

I would highly recommend donating to the Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund, who are currently on the ground distributing food, water, and shelter to affected communities. The red cross has been sketchy in the past, so if you want your money going directly to the victims I recommend the link above.

This is the largest string of wildfires Washington has ever seen. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and dozens of firefighters lives have been lost. Please keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers, and if you can, donate to the relief efforts. Thank you.

Brazilian river Rio Doce, most important river in the state of Minas Gerais, declared officially dead due to the dams burst in the city of Mariana.

The disaster that happened in the city of Mariana, in the state of Minas Gerais, was unprecedented, with at least 9 people dead and 18 people disappeared counted so far. Furthermore, it is noticed that the environmental disaster caused by the dams burst is already putting an end to Rio Doce, the most important river of Minas Gerais. Specialists already declare it officialy dead. Laboratory analysis, ordered after the disaster, found particles of heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, iron, barium, copper, boron and mercury in the river’s water. Luciano Magalhães, director of SAAE (Autonomous Service Of Water And Sewer), organ responsible for the analysis, claimed that “it seems they’ve thrown the entire periodic table” into the river. According to him, the water has no more use at all and it’s improper for irrigation and animal and human consumption.

In addition to those heavy metals, the mud’s mere force has already devastated the river’s biodiversity forever. Environmentalists don’t discard the possibility that entire endemic species have been extinct by the mud. The ammount of mud is so huge that the river had its natural course blocked, which made it lose force and form little lakes that are also not going to last long, given that, in addition to the minerals, sewers, pesticides and agrochemicals are also being carried by the waters.

Fishermen of the region created the Noah’s Ark Operation to act in areas of Rio Doce’s hydrographic basins that haven’t been hit by the flood yet, using boxes, buckets, and plastic sheets to transfer fish to lakes with clean water. When visiting the places affected by the burst, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff declared that the preliminary fine Samarco (mining company responsible for the dams) must pay for the environmental damage is going to be around R$250 million (US$65.01 million).

A document emitted by Minas Gerais’s Public Ministry, issued in October 2013 during the process of renewal of the concession license for Samarco, reveals that there were risks of disruption of the city’s dams. According to the text, the situation of the structure was not recommended because of possible erosion (such as cracks or openings) that could destabilize the dam of waste coming from the mining process.

“The waste dump [ground layer] requires low humidity and good drainage”, conditions that, according to the justice promoter Carlos Eduardo Ferreira Pinto, who analysed the report, are not found in dams like those that broke in Mariana, since they require high humidity to function as a water reservoir.

In this type of structures, there are infiltrations - that must be properly drained. The problem is when the drainage system of the infiltrated water fails and causes internal erosion in the dam.

The prosecutor has stated that a dam burst of this magnitude doesn’t happen by accident, even if there is a natural cause event. “What happened was negligence in the company’s operation, and that is what we are investigating”, Pinto said.

However, Hernani Mota de Lima, mine engineering professor at the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), has claimed that the climatic conditions of the region contradict the hypothesis of the Prosecutor.

“Today we are in a period of drought. Thus, the structure has no contact with moisture, which contradicts the 2013 report”, he describes. "But we must wait for the expert opinion”.

So far, there is no technical analysis stating the causes of the disaster.

Sources (in portuguese): x, x

My mother taught me
the distinct smell before the rain,
the promise of cleansing.
Didn’t anyone warn you
I’m what natural disasters
are named after?
I am a river,
good luck controlling me
good luck slowing me down.
There isn’t an ounce of age
to my soul.
—  Michelle K., Aries in the Mornings.
7

A wildfire in the central Canadian city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, forced an entire town of 80,000 people to evacuate Tuesday as it obstructed the town’s only highway connection to the south. The flames already destroyed 80% of one neighborhood’s homes, plus some commercial buildings and trailer parks in the area. And things may get worse.

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