As a result of the internet, many people believe that the idea of community spirit has long gone. We’ve become invested in our online personas and have seemingly stopped interacting with the people around us — from our family members and friends to our neighbors and the general working public.
However, this ideology is soon dismantled when an unexpected event hits home and impacts an entire neighborhood or state. There’s nothing more exhilarating and admirable than when a group of strangers come together to overcome a common problem and stay positive until the desired outcome is achieved.
Whether this is a result of the notorious Californian wildfires or part and parcel of hurricane season, people are willing to invest their time and resources into helping those in need. According to research, these harsh weather conditions lead to 70% of power outages in the US — leaving many vulnerable people stranded in their homes. The elderly in particular is one group of people who fear these situations most, however, through innovative developments and adaptive design, Acorn Stairlifts, has created a stairlift that is battery-powered with the ability to work through any unexpected power cuts to minimize concerns.
North America notably has the most extreme weather conditions in the world and the US has a strong portfolio of dramatic weather occurrences. The country is located in the mid-latitudes, which is around halfway between the equator and the North Pole while also sitting between two oceans. Because of this, there’s a combination of cold and dry Arctic air from Canada and warm, moist and tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Atlantic which fuel adverse climate conditions.
Here, we look at how communities around the US came together as a result of the many climate changes experienced.
There’s no denying that the damage caused by hurricanes can cost the US economy millions — and in recent years, this cost has made it into the billions. Last year, Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate cost a collective $282.16 billion and devastated communities with an estimated 3,361 deaths. But how did communities pull together to make a difference?
Airbnb played a great part at the time and activated its Disaster Response Program, which helped victims of the hurricanes find free housing. Labelled as “Open Homes”, homeowners advertised their spare rooms and signed themselves up to house evacuees for free. This initiative set up by Airbnb came into action after Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in 2012.
As Florida was one of the main states impacted by the hurricanes, many people were trying to evacuate from the area and head to safer locations. Energy storage company, Tesla, extended the battery life of its Floridian cars, which reportedly allowed drivers to go an additional 30-40 miles. What helped this more was that Google were able to update Maps in real time and highlight any road closures.
Also, the Red Cross was able to utilize over 7,000 workers to help thousands of people. The organization was able to provide more than 555,300 overnight shelter stays, while also serving over 1.6 million meals and snacks in association with its partners that wanted to contribute to the cause. As many possessions were destroyed, the Red Cross was able to distribute 1.8 million essential relief items including cleaning supplies, diapers and more.
Research from National Geographic found that, on average, more than 100,000 wildfires can clear four to five million acres of land in the US, annually. Reports also suggest that a wildfire can move at speeds of up to 14 miles an hour — blazing down forests, homes, animals and humans. Earlier this year, Northern California experienced a total of 5,967 fires that cost $2.566 billion — but how did the people of this state rebuild their lives?
As there was little that could be done on the ground at the time, most aid came from donations. Bank of America made a quick donation of $200,000 to the Red Cross to help support relief efforts being made at the time. As well as this, the largest bank in California lowered its minimum matching-gift program for employees from $25 to $1 — meaning that more donations could be made.
Facebook is a great platform for people to raise awareness for causes and make donations. The co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged a donation of $1 million on behalf of his social media giant to help rebuild the local communities that were impacted. As well as this, the company issued a Facebook Safety Check to help users in affected areas let their friends and family know that they were safe.
Matching the $1 million donation made by Facebook was Google — through its charitable entity, Google.org. As well as this, the Crisis Response team at the tech-magnet created an SOS Alert system, which was implemented across different Google features — including Maps and Search — to help users understand what was going on and what decisions they needed to make during the situation.