Many of us are finishing our summer vacations and turning our attention to Fall, getting ready for cool weather and for school to start again. Others, unfortunately, are dealing with urgent matters brought on by weather-related disasters right here in Delaware and beyond our borders.
I’m sure you’ve read of the devastating wildfires that destroyed the historic town of Lahaina in West Maui, leaving a path of destruction spanning nearly 3.5 square miles. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the relentless severe heat waves in the southwestern United States.
While fewer in number and severity, weather-related disasters occur in Delaware, too. On August 7, driving rains and wind uprooted dozens of trees and damaged houses in the Brookside, Ogletown and Cherokee Woods sections of Newark.
On April 2, a tornado killed one man and impacted homes in a 14-mile path of destruction from Bridgeville to Ellendale in Sussex County. The homeowners face extraordinary costs for debris cleanup, home repairs, loss of furniture and personal property and in some cases, losing memorabilia saved over generations. My heart goes out to the people now working to repair their homes and their lives. We know they need more than our thoughts and prayers. They need our help.
Of course, monetary donations are always important, and you can donate through our emergency fund at https://uwde.org/give-online/disaster.
If you would like to donate directly to Maui, we suggest the Maui United Way Disaster Relief Fund.
Assistance and information are important, too. Delaware 211, our statewide helpline, is here to help those affected access the resources they need, including help with food, utilities, insurance claims and referrals to local agencies and organizations.
Many of these families need a literal helping hand – volunteer work crews for clearing up debris, technical assistance with plumbing and electric, food drives and distributions, donations of clothing and household goods.
I’m so proud that my United Way colleagues and our partners have stepped up in numerous ways to support our neighbors in need. Below you will see accounts of our coworkers participating in cleanups and food drives in Milford and Newark. And read about one of our teammates who recently won an award for her dedication to helping
in Sussex County. These are ways United Way of Delaware and our community partners are here to meet the wide range of our neighbors’ needs.
We are in the process of creating a United Way of Delaware Disaster Response Team — a cadre of volunteers who stand ready to react to an emergency — who can be activated at short notice. If you would join us in a work crew or a food drive, to volunteer your skills in repairing damaged residences, clearing debris, or helping out in other ways, sign up online to let us know you want to be added to our list.
It’s about giving our time, talents, and treasure. Most of us have one or more of them. Let’s show up for people who need us now and be ready for those who might need our help in the future.
Michelle A. Taylor, Ed.D.
President and CEO, United Way of Delaware