Disaster Relief During a Pandemic: Why now is more critical than ever
MArch 5, 2021
Since its founding, All Hands and Hearts has always dealt with challenging situations and made hard choices to balance the safety of the communities we serve and the well-being of our teams. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has gone far beyond what any one of us could have imagined or planned for; every day, we adjust our plans to continue to deliver our support while the COVID-19 crisis rages on.
Our work has become even more essential during the pandemic because the global community is now dealing with a public health crisis, and at the same time, the frequency and intensity of disasters is increasing—a collision of crises. Key findings from a 2020 report from the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made clear that while the world’s attention is rightfully on the pandemic, climate disasters can be just as devastating. According to the report’s authors and media outlets such as Vox, “more than 100 disasters — many of which were climate- and weather-related—have affected more than 50 million people around the world since March,” when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
As a result of this unprecedented dual-crisis, our team put adapting to the pandemic at the forefront, ensuring that we’d meet our commitments to provide support to the communities we serve. New and innovative volunteer programming such as DM12 was developed, and new health and safety protocols have been implemented to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19. These measures are continually updated and improved upon to ensure that we don’t put communities at greater risk by our presence. We have been incredibly mindful of safety as we continue to partner with the LA Food Bank and CORE, in the Los Angeles area, to provide trained and motivated volunteers to help them deliver their critical services.
We also know firsthand that already stressed communities are falling even further behind, which to us, is unacceptable. Our teams have seen how the overwhelming needs in Marsh Harbour, The Bahamas, caused by Hurricane Dorian in September of 2019, have continued to go unmet. Local news reports from News 10 in Florida painted a clear picture at the one-year anniversary of the storm, saying, “The coronavirus pandemic has slowed recovery efforts following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian.” We not only returned to work in The Bahamas but doubled down by expanding to two programs—we fully intend to live up to our ideal of “arriving early and staying late.”
Every day, we strive to redouble our efforts to think creatively, act thoughtfully and behave with purpose. Our staff and volunteers are fully committed to delivering on our promise of supporting and partnering with communities around the world affected by natural disasters on the long, and now more complex, road to recovery. To that end, our staff and volunteers are now in place and beginning our 4th school reconstruction program, in Oaxaca, Mexico, to support children who have not had a safe place to learn and grow since the 2017 earthquakes.
We know we have much to learn and we will continue to be agile, flexible and responsive to this ever-changing pandemic. We thank you for your trust and confidence as we continue to deliver micro solutions to macro problems.
-Erik Dyson, CEO
For more information on how All Hands and Hearts is prioritizing safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.