Earthquakes, like other natural disasters, can arrive without warning and strip thousands of people of basic necessities. The destruction can happen within a matter of minutes, but the financial hardship may last for months or even years.
Thankfully, there are countless ways you can lend a hand and help earthquake victims locally or abroad. Between volunteer work, fundraising drives, or simply helping a neighbor, this disaster relief guide offers a number of ideas about how you can help speed up recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Startling earthquake statistics
- Earthquakes have been responsible for more than 800,000 deaths and have left over 17 million people homeless since 1990, according to the OECD.
- The deadliest earthquake of the 21st century was a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti in 2010 that killed an estimated 316,000 people and caused $13.2 billion in damage, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- About half of all Americans are at risk for damage from an earthquake, according to the USGS.
- Only 25-28% of US homeowners in earthquake prone areas have earthquake insurance, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Organizations that help earthquake victims
When homes, businesses, and entire communities are damaged in a matter of minutes by earthquakes, there are nonprofits and government relief workers that jump into action to help with recovery efforts. We list reliable public and private options for those in need.
Earthquake relief from charities
Below are a few charities that frequently step in to help when after an earthquake, or work to get communities prepared for a potential earthquake.
This nonprofit’s emergency response teams are partly made up of military veterans who want to continue making a difference. The military veterans work with medical professionals and first responders to help communities after devastating disasters.
This nonprofit offers an Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program that helps California residents prepare their homes for potential earthquakes at a discounted rate. Older homes are given a “residential seismic retrofit” that includes adding bolts and bracing around the home’s perimeter and foundation.
Since 1979, Americares has been providing aid to people affected by poverty or disaster. The organization responds to about 30 emergencies each year, whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, or health crises. One of their mottos is “Ready, respond, recover.”
Government support after an earthquake
In the aftermath of an earthquake, these government programs help individuals and businesses stay safe and rebuild.
Emergency shelters and safety information
After a natural disaster, you can use the FEMA app to locate emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers. The app also sends real-time updates from the National Weather Service and offers emergency safety tips. To download the app, visit FEMA’s website.
Disaster relief loans
Victims of natural disasters like earthquakes can receive financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) if they are homeowners or renters located in a declared disaster area. The SBA offers low-interest, long-term loans up to $200,000 to help individuals and families with expenses not covered by insurance.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
If an earthquake or other natural disaster prevents you from going to work, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program can help. The program offers up to 26 weeks of benefits for those who no longer have a job or place to work because of the disaster, cannot reach their place of employment, or cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster. To find more information and apply, visit the United States Department of Labor website.
Donations for earthquake victims: How to help
When earthquakes displace thousands and cause destruction on a large scale, it can be tough to know how to help. We’ve rounded up the best ways to focus your efforts and provide earthquake relief.
Donating your blood only takes about 45 minutes, but this small time commitment can save someone’s life. To find out more about how to schedule an appointment to give blood, visit the American Red Cross online.
Donate your time
If you’re near the disaster area, you can reach out to relief organizations and find out if they need help with their disaster recovery plan. Animals also need our help after natural disasters, so another volunteer idea is to get in touch with your local animal shelters to find out how you can help. The Humane Society is just one organization with a dedicated animal rescue team that trains volunteers and helps displaced animals become fostered and adopted.
If you’d like to help from afar, reach out to your local food bank and ask if they plan on accepting donations for victims.
It might seem like donating used clothing and household supplies after a natural disaster is a good way to help. But the reality is that physical donations for earthquake victims aren’t needed and can overwhelm distribution centers, creating more work for aid groups. According to a recent article by The Guardian, relief organizations say that donating cold hard cash first is actually the best way to help after a natural disaster.
Fundraising for earthquake victims
Starting a crowdfunding fundraiser in the wake of an earthquake is an immediate way to help victims of natural disasters, even if you’re short on money. Through GoFundMe, you can start crowdfunding for natural disasters and quickly raise money for whatever earthquake victims need most at the moment. Here are the most common fundraising ideas for disaster relief:
- Help a specific family in need, whether that means home repairs, funds for a temporary shelter, or simply money for food.
- Raise money for an entire community. Reach out to city officials and find out where help is most needed, then focus your fundraising efforts there.
- Partner with a favorite local business that needs help rebuilding.
- Start a certified charity fundraiser for a disaster relief organization that can have a more widespread impact. Discover charity fundraisers on GoFundMe for inspiration.
A GoFundMe is also ideal for long-term giving because there is no deadline to withdraw your funds. You can continue to raise money as long as recovery efforts continue, whether that is a few weeks or a few years. And our free fundraising platform means that more of the donations you receive can be used to help people in need.
For a comprehensive look at fundraising for other disasters, take a look at our blog post Your Guide to Disaster Fundraising.
Real people who received help from crowdfunding
Thousands of earthquake victims have rebuilt their lives with the help of charities and government aid—but just as many realize they need help beyond those programs. These resilient individuals used GoFundMe to help recover and rebuild after devastating earthquakes.
Rose and Andreas were one of many who lost everything in August of 2018 when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Lombok, Indonesia. “Everything we worked so hard for over the last three years disappeared in a minute,” said Rose in their fundraiser story.
The couple fell in love when visiting the island three years before and decided to open a small boutique hotel they named Villa Nangka. After the violent quake left residents without food, water, or electricity, the couple began using supplies from their hotel to help out. They launched a GoFundMe to rebuild their hotel and raised over $21,000.
Jane spent six years creating her “forever home” on Hawaii’s Big Island. She couldn’t have imagined that everything would be destroyed the by violent volcanic eruptions and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck in early May 2018.
“The heat was stifling,” said Jane in her GoFundMe story. “But for me the deafening sound—the roar and explosions of the earth cracking open around us—defined disaster.”
At the urging of friends, Jane launched her GoFundMe so she could relocate. In just five months, Jane’s fundraiser raised over $12,000 to help her start over somewhere safer.
Support earthquake victims right now
When an earthquake strikes, you can create a disaster relief fund and give financial support to people in need. Whether you’re raising money to help a close friend or an international nonprofit, we can help you make a difference. Sign up for a GoFundMe today and begin helping with recovery efforts.