Donate to Hurricane Laura: Relief & Recovery
The Mutual Aid Response Network is a group of Louisiana residents, led by Imagine Water Works, that activates during floods, storms, and other natural and manmade disasters. We are part of a larger network of organizers across the Deep South, connected through Project South and the Southern Movement Assembly.
All donations to this fund will support relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta.
UPDATE: As of 10/8 and with a new storm on the same track as Hurricane Laura, we are expanding the Hurricane Laura Fund to also include support for Hurricane Delta, and increasing our goal to $250,000. We are directly regranting funds to impacted individuals through our Emergency Cash Program, as well as focusing on both immediate and longer term recovery efforts. The need across coastal Louisiana is still significant — and our small, BIPOC, trans, and locally-led organization still needs your help. See updates below for more information.
Our commitment for the usage of funds:
- We will keep the total donation amount public — you'll know exactly how much has been raised.
- As we regrant/utilize the funds, we will share exactly where the money is going.
- We will prioritize the funding, leadership, and safety of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
- The first $65,000 of this fund will be 100% directly regranted to individuals. Additional donations are being used toward programmatic costs such as transportation, relief supplies, outreach, and covering fees for accessible regranting.
NOTE: If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our work, checks can be mailed to our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Project South (EIN: 581956686). In the MEMO field, include "Imagine Water Works: Hurricane Relief". If you would like to partner on a grant to support this work, email [email protected]
4/30/21: We are SO excited to share this funding update with you! This month we redistributed the remaining $30,000 from the fund to The Vessel Project in Lake Charles. The Vessel Project is a small (but large in their impact!), Black-led, local mutual aid group that is actively engaged in daily work on the ground. They've been working tirelessly, especially through the winter storms, to help folks who have been unhoused due to Hurricane Laura. They've bought folks hotel rooms, are helping them navigate FEMA, and are on call 24/7 to support their neighbors in crisis. And they've been doing this on their own time, with their own money. As an unincorporated group, they aren't yet eligible for grant funding — a pattern that is all too common for mutual aid. This is where YOU come in! Because of everything you all have given, we were able to collectively support them in a way that will keep them going at a time when the storm is no longer in the news and donations are few. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We'll share a video of their work soon!
1/17/21: Wow, we continue to be busy in both Lake Charles and New Orleans, as hurricane recovery is always a lengthy process. Our work in New Orleans has moved more to what would traditionally be called "case management" but for us is longterm personalized care and mutual aid. Some folks who evacuated here have gone home, but some are still here — with less support than before. We have been connecting people with housing, food, clothing, and more as they get settled in what may be their new longterm home.
10/28: We've spent the last 48 hours prepping for Hurricane Zeta, which will be a direct hit on our city and our organization. We know it's been a tough year, but please continue to donate or spread the word. Every show of support helps.
10/26: As of today, we have successfully distributed $16,440 of emergency funds directly to 411 individuals in New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Lafayette. We've signed up over 625 individuals, with a goal of distributing $25,000 through the Emergency Cash Program alone.
10/24: Today we successfully recommended seven Indigenous and LGBTQ families for $500-$1000 additional cash assistance each through Islamic Relief Muslim Charity. These emergency funds can be used for whatever each family needs in the wake of Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. Those we recommended were already part of our networks and include Black trans women, a young trans woman in SWLA, a member of the Atakapa-Ishak Nation who is caring for other sheltering families at this time, an Indigenous zydeco musician, and LGBTQ women sheltering in New Orleans.
10/23: Thanks to our friends at ITDRC, we now have 20 HP tablets to distribute to those who are most impacted by both hurricanes and COVID-19 right now! We'll be working over the next week to distribute them as quickly as possible, prioritizing children who have evacuated from Hurricane Laura and are now taking classes remotely.
10/19: For the past week, we have been focused on keeping the mutual aid group running, as well as disbursing cash to those who need it most. So far, with your help we've successfully distributed: $5,100 to BIPOC individuals in the Lake Charles area; $3,000 in supplies to Sulphur (rural SWLA); and $14,840 to evacuated individuals in New Orleans and SWLA through the Emergency Cash Program. We continue to work on getting more ATMs active for the Emergency Cash Program to make it accessible to as many people as possible — as well as responding to emerging needs throughout recovery. Our most recent emerging need is for laptops, so we're looking for sponsors and donors who can help us get these to evacuated children who need them for remote school at the moment. As of today, there are still 6,000 people evacuated to New Orleans from Hurricane Laura and Delta.
10/10: Hurricane Delta was the strongest storm named for the Greek Alphabet in history, and those of us who were working on Hurricane Laura Relief are now supporting the same communities through Hurricane Delta. As of today, we've registered 600+ individuals for accessible emergency cash assistance through a network of ATMs enabled for our program. That means we're providing at least $25,000 in low barrier cash support to those most impacted by both Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Over the next few days, we will continue to help individuals access their funds so that they can use the money to return home, see family, or purchase supplies that aren't offered through traditional support.
10/8 @ 3:24pm: We're continuing to disburse funds through our Hurricane Laura Emergency Cash Program ahead of Hurricane Delta. In the past few days, we have sent $40 in emergency cash to 219 evacuated individuals, totaling $8,760. You all are making this happen — Thank you so much for your support!
10/8 @ 10am: With a new storm on the same track as Hurricane Laura, we are now expanding the Hurricane Laura Relief Fund to include Hurricane Delta Relief. We expect Delta to make landfall Friday night or Saturday morning as a Category 2 or 3. The eye of the storm has shifted west, passing over the same communities that were hit by Laura back in August (see photos below). With a historically active hurricane season, we continue to need as much support as possible for both immediate relief and long term recovery. Please continue to share the fundraiser with your networks. If you're in New Orleans, we are also still supporting 6,000 evacuated people with food, clothing, emergency funds, storm information, and anything else folks need. Everyone has something to offer, even if it's emotional support or something as simple as a quick snack delivery. If you have Facebook and would like to help, find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MutualAidNewOrleans/.
Hurricane Laura's track is on the left; Hurricane Delta's current track is on the right.
10/7: As of today, we have completed a smaller, first round of disbursements from the Hurricane Laura Emergency Cash Program. So far, we have sent $40 to 23 individuals, totaling $920.
10/6: We're excited to announce the launch of our Hurricane Laura Emergency Cash Program! Thanks to your donations, we are now distributing $25,000 in $40 increments to 625 evacuated individuals. To keep people safe from COVID, we are doing this through text — and individuals are able to withdraw their own cash through a nearby cardless ATM, without ID or a bank account. While this is enough money to cover gas from New Orleans to Lake Charles and back, we are also encouraging individuals to use it for whatever they need most in this moment. We believe that those who are most impacted by disasters know exactly what they need. They deserve autonomy and dignity, even in times of crisis. The Emergency Cash Program and our Imagine Mutual Aid groups are both rooted in this value. Read more about the program HERE.
10/1: Today we drove 20 minutes past Lake Charles to Sulphur, Louisiana. Sulphur was hit hard but is more rural and has fewer resources. We used $252.05 from the Hurricane Laura Relief Fund to rent a van big enough to haul supplies, along with paying for gas to get there and back. Somehow (!?) we fit all of this in a 12-passenger van:
🔸 15 each of claw hammers, box fans, extension cords, buckets, and gallons of bleach
🔸 10 chainsaws
🔸 5 charcoal grills + bags of charcoal
🔸 12 handy bars for demolition
🔸 150 work gloves
🔸 3000 garbage/contractor bags for cleanup
🔸 an assortment of pest control supplies, tarps, generator oil, and batteries
This was the most powerful storm to hit Louisiana in 150 years. The people of Southwest Louisiana are still needing your support for relief and recovery. Please continue to donate and share!
9/28: We've now sent 30 Uber rides, have scheduled to drop off supplies in Lake Charles on Wednesday this week, and are working on a large disbursement of funds. New Orleans still has over 10,000 people who have evacuated to our city. This is a long term effort, with our organization leading the way as Black and trans, multigenerational native Louisianans. Please continue to donate as you are able, and consider joining the mutual aid group on Facebook to help out, one on one.
9/24: Much of our work this past week has been "behind the scenes" continuing to facilitate our mutual aid group, which now has 4,400 members and continues to support those who are still in New Orleans (still over 10,000 people). The biggest need at the moment is suitcases — the group has fulfilled 40+ suitcase requests in the past few days. On Wednesday, we completed our last reusable bag run to the Resource Center, bringing our total number of bags collected/sorted/delivered to over 3,000. We're working now to support those who are being sent home or moved around to different shelters in the city, and those who are trying to navigate FEMA assistance. In the past week, we have also sent 18 free Uber rides to folks who have evacuated and do not have transportation to get to the store, pharmacy, doctor, and other essential resources. This resource is ongoing until we reach 50 rides, so if you know of folks who need a ride, have them reach out to us on social media! If they don't have internet access, please help out by contacting us on their behalf (with their consent, of course).
9/15: Whew, we've been busy preparing both New Orleanians and evacuated folks for Hurricane Sally. We received an update this morning that Sally would not hit New Orleans — we're grateful but staying in touch with our partners in Mississippi and Alabama. We've also been working on our next large disbursement of relief funds and will be excited to provide an update next week (or sooner if possible!). In the meantime we've helped Cathy, a hairstylist who evacuated here from Lake Charles, set up a temporary salon within her shelter to provide free haircuts to others while there:
We've worked with Home Depot to secure chainsaws, buckets, bleach, box fans, extension cords, and other supplies to help folks clean out their homes once they're able to return. And we have a shipment of 3,000 brand new socks on the way! We're doing our best to secure supplies and resources that aren't typically covered in traditional disaster relief. Many thanks to everyone who has helped along the way.
9/10: Tonight we were grateful to be a part of a virtual healing event and fundraiser, reflecting upon the lasting impact of Hurricane Katrina on our city — and in particular, on Black artists. This was a time for Black New Orleanian artists to talk about growing up in New Orleans, our experiences with Katrina, and the ways we imagine art can preserve history and shape the future of our city. We also reflected on Hurricane Laura and what that will mean for coastal Louisiana in the years to come. The panel consisted of Maha Chielo, @bmike2c, @phillipmyoumans, @dawnrichard, and a musical performance by @mykiajovan. Our Managing Director, Monique Thomas, spoke about the work we're doing to provide relief for Hurricane Laura survivors; and @stephaniemckeeanderson, Executive Artistic Director of @junebugnola, provided closing remarks and shared a film about New Orleans.
Our partners for the event were @blackfilmfestno, @wift_louisiana, @novacvideo, @neworleansfilmsociety, @thedreamdefenders, @blackpublicmedia, Junebug Productions, @sisterswithinvoices, and @thecreatedaily. Thank you for showing up, everyone!
9/9: When Hurricane Laura made landfall and we launched this fund, we were told that there would be 800 people evacuated to New Orleans. We are now up to 12,000 people (officially) and growing. As such, we are capping the direct regranting portion of the fund at $62,000 to focus on adding much-needed immediate and long term support for folks evacuated here to the city, as well as longterm recovery efforts for Southwest LA. Any additional funds raised will go toward general costs such as printing flyers, expanding our 24/7 crisis response team, and supporting our overall work on Hurricane Laura Relief and Recovery. We are the only local BIPOC and trans-led disaster relief group on the ground for the 12,000+ people who need services right now in New Orleans. We're also led by multi-generational native New Orleanians who went through Hurricane Katrina and know what it's like to be displaced; we bring that care to our work. The situation is dire and we still need your help. In the last week alone, we have fact-checked and facilitated over 5,000 interactions in our online mutual aid group — this does not account for all of the DMs, text messages, phone calls, VOAD meetings, and in-person actions that have been happening simultaneously. We do this transparently and welcome anyone to check out the group to see who we are and how it works. We also post a steady stream of screenshots and photos on our social media platforms if you're looking for even more frequent, detailed updates!
9/8: Wow, thank you all so much for the support! We have been incredibly busy, but please know that we see you out there helping folks and supporting our work. It means the world to us. This week we worked with individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses to collect and deliver 1,000 bags to the Resource Center. The Resource Center sees about 500 people per day, so the bag donation drive is still going — if you're in New Orleans, check out our Facebook or Instagram to find the drop-off locations (Lower 9th Ward, West Bank, Mid-City, and Magazine). The mutual aid group is also picking up excess food and bringing it to hotel shelters with less food, stocking community fridges, dropping off microwaves and mini fridges, doing laundry for folks, delivering specific hygiene products, brooms, vacuums, and more. We're dropping off cleaning supplies now because the hotel shelters (1) are not cleaning the rooms and (2) do not offer cleaning products for folks to do it themselves. Tonight's heartwarming moment was when a mother asked for help baking her kid a birthday cake — he's going to have so many awesome cakes now! It's been amazing to watch folks step up for each other in so many ways. All of it is important.
9/7: When the government shut down the Resource Center for three days in a row, we stayed open. That means we are one of the only places where folks can ask questions and receive support right now. We'll be in touch again soon with more details! In the meantime, you can always stay in touch and see what we're doing on a daily basis via our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
9/1: We now have 9,200 people staying in 30 shelters/hotels, which means likely more than 10,000 people sheltering in the City right now. Additional people are now being directed to go to the "mega shelter" in Alexandria, Louisiana. Yesterday, we collected and dropped off bags at the Resource Center so that folks wouldn't have to carry supplies back to their hotels in their arms. If you have bags to spare, check out our social media channels for places to drop them. If you live in New Orleans, you're invited to join us in the Imagine Mutual Aid Facebook group — people who have evacuated are asking for exactly what they need. This is a chance to deliver it to them. Lots of needs getting met, including strollers, specific clothing items, and other mobility devices. Some requests still need more support. More requests are coming in. Given the increased numbers from when we first launched the Hurricane Laura Relief Fund, we've increased the fundraising goal to $100,000.
8/31: Photo update. Top image (Reuters): Two individuals from our "Street Team", talking with folks and helping them log into the mutual aid group so that they can ask for what they need. Bottom image (Imagine Water Works): Piles of clothing on the ground. For safety and accessibility reasons, we are asking folks to respond *directly to requests from individuals* instead of dropping off boxes of donations. People deserve the right to state their own needs, and they deserve to have things handed to them — not to pick it up off a street. We have a solution to that. More about that can be found on our Facebook post here.
8/30: We are now at 6000 people staying in hotels across the city. Yesterday we gathered more volunteers and prepped our 3,100 member New Orleans mutual aid group for a large influx of requests. Today we printed 1000 additional flyers (see below) and are on the frontlines, walking the streets: listening, offering emotional support, noting immediate needs and barriers, continuing to direct folks to our Mutual Aid group to receive support, and helping folks get into the group. The group is a platform for people to state their own needs, instead of having others speak for them. Those who are most impacted deserve a voice and a say in where funding goes and what supplies they receive — free of judgment. And they deserve to be met with care and compassion.
8/29: Received confirmation that more than 3000 people have now evacuated to New Orleans. We expect to see at least double that as more make their way here. We are working with shelter organizers to respond to needs as they come in. The Fund will continue sending half of its donations directly to groups led by BIPOC Southwestern LA residents once they are ready to receive them. Half the funds are remaining here in New Orleans to support those who have evacuated + long term needs as they arise and as funds allow. Right now, the best thing to do is still to donate directly to small local organizations — whether that be us or others.
8/28: We've sent our first $5000 to the Atakapa-Ishak Nation, whose territory spans both Southwest Louisiana (The Sunrise People) and Southeast Texas (The Sunset People). Thank you so much for supporting the fund and making this possible! We have also received confirmation that at least 2000 people are sheltering in New Orleans right now. We have delivered 700 flyers to the three hotel shelters in New Orleans, directing folks to our Mutual Aid group to receive support. As the need is large and growing, both in SW LA and in New Orleans, we've increased our fundraising goal to $50,000.
8/28: We are in contact with local groups and individuals on the ground as they get their footing, gather their people, and in some cases are sheltering. Please be patient. Funding those most impacted means giving them a moment to gather their thoughts and see where the need is. Disaster funding often goes to large, non-local groups because the waiting period feels uncomfortable. We are challenging this default and moving forward with intention and care, following local BIPOC leadership.
8/27: So far, we have also received $485 through Venmo to add to the total above. At the moment, much of Southwest Louisiana (SW LA) is still very much a "disaster area" with chemical spills, evacuation traffic, and dangerous roads. We are encouraging individuals from outside of SW LA to stay put — roads are closed and emergency personnel need to be able to do their jobs, focusing on the local community. We are assessing the situation and working with hyper-local BIPOC partners to send funds to SW LA as soon as possible.
8/26: The fund's first $100 went to a family on Pecan Island who missed the last evacuation bus and needed baby formula, gas, and transmission fluid to be able to emergency evacuate to Baton Rouge.
8/25: Hurricane Laura is expected to be a Category 4 when it makes landfall in Southwestern Louisiana this week. Knowing this, we are getting ready + encouraging folks outside of Laura's direct path to support relief efforts as the situation evolves. This fund, in particular, was created in our "Imagine Mutual Aid: COVID + Hurricane Season (New Orleans)" group as one way to direct resources from New Orleans (and beyond!) to those who will be most impacted by the storm.
More about the organizers:
Imagine Water Works, based out of New Orleans since 2012, is reimagining the future through art, science, and connection. Our core focus areas are water management, climate justice, and disaster readiness and response. We value transparency — as such, you can learn all about our core teammates on our website here.
Our other current projects:
Imagine Mutual Aid (Facebook: New Orleans & Houma)
COVID-19 Guide to Hurricane Season
Trans Clippers Project
Queer/Trans Guide to Hurricane Season
Anonymous Storm Prep Q&A (Instagram)
Art of Science / Science of Art Symposium
Little Library of Water
WaterMark News Briefing
Business Survival Handbook
Joy of Water: A Resident's DIY Guide to Becoming Water Wise
Learn more about any of the projects above on our website: www.imaginewaterworks.org