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The unseen complexity of disaster relief (and how you can help)

September 25, 2018

The unseen complexity of disaster relief (and how you can help)


Susy Schöneberg

VP of Impact and General Manager, Flexport.org


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In 2017 in the U.S. alone, we saw 16 devastating weather and climate disasters with over $300B in damages. This year is no different, and the frequency of these disasters is expected to increase by 5x over the next 50 years due to the impacts of climate change. We know that disasters disrupt supply chains, but what keeps us up at night are the communities in need.

The coordination of humanitarian aid is extremely complex, as these insights show:

  • Over 60% of donated items arriving at disaster sites cannot be used, and often have to be destroyed or sent back. Too often product donations are sent in good spirit without confirming that the goods can actually be received. For example, sending couches when an area is still two feet underwater becomes a significant burden if sufficient warehousing is not available.
  • According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, almost all giving is done right after a sudden disaster but stops after 5-6 months. Yet, an overwhelming need is in long-term recovery and rebuilding, as we’ve seen in Houston after Harvey, and Puerto Rico after Maria.


At Flexport.org, we’re motivated every day by the courageous relief efforts of nonprofits and communities, and the companies who donate goods to help. In order to support the Hurricane Florence disaster relief, Flexport.org is working with organizations to enable the recovery efforts of over 100 local nonprofits. Examples of goods needed now for direct relief range from hygiene products, children’s diapers, and bed linens to work gloves and shovels.

Through our direct partnerships with nonprofits, discounted freight services, and real-time tracking, Flexport.org is committed to making sure that your product donations actually reach the right communities in need, at the right time. If your company would like to support any of our current disaster relief efforts with product donations, please get in touch with us at org@flexport.com.

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