Natural Disasters of 2005: Relief and Response Information

December 15, 2005

Boston – The last 12 months have seen some of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history.  In response, we have seen a huge outpouring of support from across the US, and across the world, to support the victims of these disasters.  There is a vast amount of work ongoing – from the immediate recovery efforts after the South-Asian earthquake of early October, to supporting those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to the ongoing work of rebuilding communities devastated by the Tsunami in December 2004.  The Boston Foundation has compiled a status update on each of these efforts, and has gathered some information about organizations working in each area to support our donors when thinking about potential funding opportunities.

Please contact Kate Guedj at 617-338-2670 to discuss any of these funding opportunities in more detail, or to discuss how best to focus your grant-making.

South Asia Earthquake
The 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia on 8 October is known to have caused tens of thousands of deaths.  Combined with a number of aftershocks, the estimates from regional officials pushed the death toll to over 50,000 people.  It is estimated that tens of thousands more have been injured, and at least two million people have been left homeless in Pakistan and Kashmir (both Pakistan and India-administered).

The area is currently in the midst of a full scale recovery effort, drawing in organizations and funds from across the world, to help recover the survivors of this disaster, identify victims and notify families.  There are a huge number of organizations working on the relief. However, the level of financial aid going to support these organizations is nowhere near as large as that seen for the Tsunami and Katrina.  In fact, the UN has stated that the shortfall in aid received so far has made the relief situation worse than for last year’s Tsunami.

Support is desperately needed to fund work to help the victims of this major disaster, for a list of organizations that you could support, see below.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

The Hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in September and October 2005 devastated and shocked people in every community across the United States.  The outpouring of money to the victims of these disasters was astonishing, and the Boston Foundation, on behalf of its donors, has awarded grants of over $280,000 to organizations working in the relief and recovery effort.

Nearly two months on, there is still a huge amount of work to do – both in terms of caring for and supporting for the individuals and families affected (many of whom are displaced in other states, and may be settling there) as well as starting to think about the rebuilding effort in the Gulf Coast states.

A large amount has already been achieved, but many organizations are still requesting significant funds to support vital, ongoing work.  For some more information about potential funding opportunities that you could support, see below.


A deadly tsunami hit the world in December 2004, killing approximately 290,000 people in 13 countries.  An immense outpouring of aid was seen, from individuals and governments alike.  There was tremendous financial support worldwide, and the Boston Foundation, on behalf of its donors, passed on over $230,000 donations to the relief work in the aftermath of the tsunami.

Much work has been undertaken over the last 10 months to help the victims of the tsunami rebuild their lives.  The focus is now on the future of the more than a million survivors who were displaced by the disaster.  The UN estimates that the cost of rebuilding the affected areas could approach $9 billion, and will take from five to 10 years.  The toughest challenges still lie ahead – including the complex issues of where to re-establish housing, rebuilding education establishments and how to quickly restore livelihoods.

A vast number of international aid and relief organizations are still actively working in this area, but due to the funds already received, they are no longer taking donations specifically designated for the Tsunami Relief.

South Asia Earthquake Relief Programs

Most major aid and relief organizations are on the ground and have emergency relief activities that need support.  Contact any of the following organizations for more information, and be sure to earmark any donations to the particular earthquake fund they have established:

    • AmeriCares, 1-800-486-HELP
    • American Red Cross, South Asia Earthquake
    • Association of Pakistani Physicians of New England, Pakistan Earthquake
    • CARE, Pakistan-India Earthquake Relief, 1-800-521-CARE
    • Episcopal Relief and Development, 1-800-334-7626
    • Give2Asia, Pakistan Earthquake Fund, 1-415-982-4640
    • International Medical Corps, Pakistan Earthquake Relief Fund, 1-310-826-7800
    • Oxfam America, Asian Earthquake Fund, 1-800-77-OXFAM
    • Salvation Army, South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund, 1-800-SAL-ARMY
    • Save the Children, South Asia Children’s Earthquake Fund, 1-800-SAVETHECHILDREN
    • US Fund for UNICEF, South Asia Earthquake Emergency Response, 1-800-4-UNICEF

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Many organizations are responding to the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, yet a large amount of work remains to be done, from helping Katrina survivors who have been displaced to another community (often in a different state), to putting funds aside to help rebuild the areas devastated, to ongoing national relief efforts to provide food, housing, medical care and emotional assistance to those affected.  Below is a list of organizations working in each of these areas, which would welcome any donations to support their ongoing work.

Supporting Displaced Survivors In Massachusetts and New England

    • American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay is mobilizing volunteers and helping to meet immediate disaster-related needs of those affected by the hurricanes.
    • The Black Ministerial Alliance is designing and implementing a coordinated, interfaith response network to link families with local congregations and groups giving them support, as well as linking them to non-profits and government agencies for support in finding jobs, housing, education, and medical care.
    • Catholic Charities (of both Boston & Springfield) are contributing to the local and state relief efforts, in helping to provide housing to the displaced when they leave Camp Edwards, as well as counseling and case management services.
    • Greater Boston Food Bank is one of a network of food banks providing support to the victims of the hurricanes.
    • Lutheran Social Services of New England is organizing the resources of all Lutheran and some Episcopal congregations for resettling hurricane evacuee families in New England, including housing, employment, transportation and health care services.

The situation and each local charity’s response are constantly changing.  If you are considering recommending a grant to one of these organizations, please call Kate Guedj (617-338-2670) to understand the current needs.

In other states

    • Baton Rouge Area Foundation has established the Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund to benefit those individuals evacuated to Baton Rouge from the hurricane impacted areas, such as Greater New Orleans (estimated to be half a million people).
    • Greater Houston Community Foundation has the Bush-Clinton Houston Hurricane Relief Fund to provide aid and resources to those who have suffered economic loss and hardship as a result of Hurricane Katrina and who have temporarily relocated to the Houston area.
    • Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, through their Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund are routing funds to community partners who are providing food, clothing and shelter for those in Louisiana and Mississippi who were displaced.

Helping to rebuild the areas devastated

    • Greater New Orleans Community Foundation has established the Rebuild New Orleans Fund.  Money in this fund is designated for the relief, recovery and betterment of New Orleans.
    • Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulfport, Mississippi) and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau have established the Build Back our Coast Fund to aid the economic recovery, rebuilding efforts and job regeneration in the region.
    • Foundation for the Mid South’s Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Restoration Fund provides financial resources to nonprofits working to rebuild the lives and communities of the people in Southern Louisiana, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Alabama Coast.

National Relief Efforts

In addition, there are a large number of general funds looking to gather donations for broad used in helping the survivors of the hurricanes of August and September 2005.  Some of them are listed here, but there are many others:

    • American Friends Service Committee, 1-888-588-2372
    • AmeriCares, Katrina & Rita Relief Fund, 1-800-486-HELP
    • American Red Cross
    • Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund
    • Episcopal Relief and Development, 1-800-334-7626
    • Oxfam America, Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery Fund, 1-800-77-OXFAM
    • Salvation Army, 1-800-SAL-ARMY
    • Save the Children, Gulf Coast Hurricanes Recovery Fund for Children, 1-800-SAVETHECHILDREN
    • United Jewish Communities, 1-877-277-2477


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with an endowment of $686 million.  In 2005, the Foundation and its donors made a record-breaking $63 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $53 million.  The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.  For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit   or call 617-338-1700.