United Way Disaster Recovery

It is in times of need that we discover the full impact of a community united.

When communities face disaster, United Way plays a key role. From ensuring our first responders can act swiftly, to leading long-term recovery, United Way has the experience, networks, and capacity to address even the most devastating events. United Way's primary role in times of disaster is in long-term recovery, which can take years.

Across America, 211 is a community’s go-to resource. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 211 specialists connect callers with the help they need. During times of disaster, 211 supports communities before and during disasters. That might be directing people to evacuation routes and shelters beforehand, or helping people get food, water, and emergency supplies afterward.

But we're in the community long after the first responders leave, focusing on interim- and long-term disaster recovery. It’s not a quick fix.

Supporting Immediate Relief

Natural and man-made crises are becoming the new normal, unfortunately. That means United Way must help our communities prepare for and respond to disasters as they happen. The United Way network is uniquely positioned to provide on-the-ground disaster response, including raising funds; providing resources like food, water, and shelter; mobilizing volunteers; and engaging local partners to ensure community stability. United Way is also proud to partner with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many others who are helping with immediate relief and evacuations.

Leading Long-Term Recovery

Rebuilding communities is costly and takes years, and we’re in it for the long haul. When the first responders leave, United Way will still be there investing in sustainable development. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

  • We serve as a convener for social service providers to assess needs and ensure the delivery of ongoing support
  • We focus investments and efforts on disaster case management, structural repairs, victims' health, and other unmet needs
  • We create innovative partnerships to address emerging needs and fill gaps

It's been more than 100 years since Turkey and Syria have been hit by such powerful earthquakes. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria early on Feb. 6 was just the start. Hours later, a new 7.5 tremor occurred. The death toll is climbing, with 36,000+ dead so far. Many people are still under the rubble. Countless homes, businesses, schools and community supports have been destroyed; hospitals are without power. Hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless and at risk for disease, exposure and starvation. A state of emergency has been declared for 10 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.  

United Way is stepping up, as we always do during crises. United Way Worldwide is partnering closely with MATAN/United Way Israel, who is working to assess and respond to the short and long-term recovery needs. They're working with local partners to collect food, clothing and other essentials, while coordinating shipments to those critically in need. In addition, MATAN/United Way Israel is working with healthcare organizations to coordinate medical and long-term trauma care that will be critical to those who were impacted by the devastation.    

By donating to United Way, you’re supporting vetted, nonpartisan organizations on the ground and providing vital help to those who need it most. This situation is fluid and there is no doubt the needs will be great and will continue for some time.

Turkey & Syria Earthquake Relief Fund

By donating to this fund, you will receive a U.S. tax receipt. United Way Worldwide is unable to provide tax receipts for non-U.S. donations.


According to the New York Times, many survivors are still without heat and electricity along a 200-mile swath of mountainous terrain in Turkey. On a road in the hard-hit province of Hatay, electricity poles are leaning at extreme angles. In the devastated city of Antakya, people in winter jackets are huddled around thickets of power strips to charge their cellphones.

Across the border in northwestern Syria, where millions displaced by the country’s civil war had been enduring a brutal winter without heating when the earthquake hit, power outages are creating fuel shortages in hospitals, according to the United Nations. Snowfall and below freezing temperatures have further impeded rescue efforts.

Bereaved family members on the Syrian side of the border waited in the bitter cold to receive the bodies of relatives who had died in Turkey, in keeping with religious practices that require interrment within 24 hours. Syria lodged a formal request for aid with the European Union, but assistance has been slow to arrive with the impact of the country’s civil war complicating efforts.

In times like these when the challenges seem insurmountable for individuals and families who have lost everything—their home, their business, their school–United Way is committed to using its 135 years of experience in mobilizing resources and leading collaborative efforts to help communities access resources like housing, food and employment.

Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona devastated Puerto Rico with more than 30 inches of rain, the heaviest rainfall recorded in more than 120 years. It has caused catastrophic damage to thousands of residents, homes, farms, and businesses, resulting in millions in losses for the community.

The island is still reeling from the impacts of Hurricane Maria, COVID, and the destruction caused by Hurricane Fiona has only exacerbated existing conditions for the people, animals, and land of Puerto Rico.

United Way of Puerto Rico always addresses the most pressing needs of our community and will continue to do so in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. They have extensive experience leveraging the financial resources received for emergency relief channeled through donors and 123 affiliated nonprofit partner organizations throughout the island. Please make a much-needed contribution or share the fund today.

This fund will provide immediate and long-term recovery assistance to residents affected by flooding and infrastructure damage throughout the region. 

A man walks through a street among damaged homes and businesses and debris in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, United Way Worldwide has established the United Way Disaster Response and Recovery Fund to help local United Ways on the ground respond to immediate needs and rebuild community infrastructure across affected regions.

Hurricane Ian has damaged hundreds of coastal communities with powerful winds, dangerous storm surges, and flooding. Millions are still without power; more than 100 people have lost their lives; and thousands of homes, hospitals, and businesses have been destroyed by one of the strongest and costliest storms ever to hit the U.S.

The national fund will complement local United Way efforts, providing a single clearinghouse for individual and corporate donors who want to support. United Ways in communities impacted by Ian will continue to raise money locally and respond to immediate and emerging needs.

"Local United Ways are deeply rooted in neighborhoods. Our unique presence in communities allows us to quickly and efficiently provide help during times of crisis," said Angela F. Williams, United Way President and CEO. "United Ways work with local emergency operations centers, 211, and other critical partners to act swiftly after catastrophic events. We are in the community long after the first responders leave and understand that recovering and rebuilding is not a quick fix," she added.

United Way partner 211 is a 24/7 crisis helpline phone number with operators working on the front lines of disaster. Available across America and Canada, callers can contact 211 for critical services, including finding evacuation routes, shelters, access to food, water, and emergency supplies during and after natural disasters. Longer term, 211 helps communities recover and rebuild, connecting them with FEMA, mental health organizations, and other vital agencies. 

During the storm, United Way 211 operators in the Fort Myers region served residents desperate for assistance due to rising flood waters and family member reunification efforts. "211 call center operators are working around the clock, so we are ensuring they also have the support and resources needed," said Joshua Pedersen, Interim Senior Director of 211 for United Way Worldwide.

National United Way partners are also stepping up to support communities, with Comcast NBCUniversal announcing a significant cash and in-kind contribution to the United Way Disaster Response and Recovery Fund. "United Way greatly appreciates the support of Comcast NBCUniversal in disaster relief," Williams said. "Building stronger communities is a shared value."

Supporters seeking to provide aid for specific communities are encouraged to view the funds below:

  • United Way of Charlotte County  
  • United Way Suncoast  
  • United Way of South Sarasota County  
  • Heart of Florida United Way 
  • Lee, Henry, and Glades counties
  • United Way of Collier and The Keys
  • All Florida Funds