Natural Disasters… Helping Others

WTDW Podcast | Episode 33: What To Do When… Natural Disasters Strike and You want to Help.

What To Do When Legal Chat Podcast... As Seen on the News from Critzer Cardani PC

What To Do When… Natural Disasters Strike and You want to Help.

What To Do When… Intro 00:01
Welcome to What To Do When… A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss what to do when and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.

Jackie Critzer 0:29
Hi, welcome back to another podcast with Critzer Cardani. I’m Jackie.

Scott Cardani 0:33
I’m Scott.

Jackie Critzer 0:33
We’re coming at you from Richmond, Virginia.

Scott Cardani 0:36
What’s on the docket for today Jackie?

Jackie Critzer 0:38
Well, you know, it’s not really a legal issue. But today, we’re focused on What To Do When… Natural Disasters Strikes and You want to Help.

Scott Cardani 0:47
So what do we do when we want to help?

Jackie Critzer 0:53
There’s so many ways to help. And I know that, that we’ve participated in central Virginia coalition to help with the flooding in Louisiana, not for Katrina, but more recent than that in the last five or seven years. Because it’s hard to sit back and watch and people are, you know, people want to help you know, you see it on the news, because you see the worst of the worst on the news. And you want to go help. And if there are people who are trapped and need help getting out, it’s just this like, we want to go and help. So the first thing you can do is if you’re not already involved with a search and rescue team, let the search and rescue teams do their jobs. There are protocols in place, there are groups in place that are that are designed to go and to respond to situations like this to do search and rescue. Importantly, what we know is that water rescue is very different than land rescue. And so there are people who are specially trained in the water rescue. And for various reasons, right, there’s debris in the water, there are toxins in the water.

Scott Cardani 1:56
Yeah, that’s the thing, you just don’t know what you’re dealing with. And honestly, when you’re there, and you don’t have the skill set, you really become honestly in the way sometimes. So the people have the skill set. And I mean, trust me, I have seen the volunteers in the past who had the boat and was getting people out. And I mean, we were not talking about that we were talking to like us here in Virginia, and we want to go down to Florida and help. And you know, how much help can we really be? So that’s, that’s really, really important to think about is how can I best serve. My heart is to go get in the water and find people, right?

Jackie Critzer 2:29
Absolutely, absolutely. Another thing you want to do is team with an organization that’s well established, not a new one. So for example, Salvation Army, or the Red Cross. I know the Red Cross has has search and rescue teams that have already deployed, some of them even left from Virginia. So you want to partner with them. That doesn’t mean necessarily if you’re not already trained going with them now, but maybe you can become part of a future rescue effort, or find a way to support the organizations that are well established, whether it’s providing the necessities, you know, these these poor folks, they don’t need clothes, right, we’ve learned clothes are really not something that they need. They need toothbrushes and toothpaste, and laundry detergent, and they need just soap and hand sanitizer and ways to clean themselves and food and water. So if you are looking for a way to get involved, right now, and you’re not already part of these organizations, go ahead and contact the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, God’s pitcrew. They send people there, there’s a group advertising right now. I think they’re called 516. And so look into them. So it’s important if you want to donate things, or try to help give things that that either first responders need or survivors or victims need, whether they’re displaced, or they’re even in their homes, right, they still don’t have clean running water. So there there are things that you can do that way but but you need to reach out to those organizations. And we’ll talk about what not to do in a couple minutes. But these are the so far, what to do let search and rescue do their job. Find an organization that you that you know is established that you can either volunteer time, effort, money, or things.

Scott Cardani 4:13
And it may be here, like all these companies are loading up trucks here getting ready to send down you can be part of that process and be very helpful. That’s if you are more than physical kind of person. There’s lots of things you can do. But remember the people there on the ground, know what needs to be done. We can’t even if we get the best news coverage in the world, we really don’t know what they need, like Jackie saying, and we’re throwing we’re sending them a pair of jeans when they really need a cup of cold water kind of thing, you know, and it’s just so really it is really good to partner financially. And I know that the governor was given a lot of different things and he pretty soon South Carolina might be in a place where they need some help and you know, so we don’t know what’s going on. But sometimes there are so many people in these situations who take advantage and they’ll set up Have a little 501 C or something and they just people donate and they get ripped off and they never see return on investment and their money went nowhere. So just be careful that we’re just, we just want you to be mindful that there are ways to help. But like Jackie said, you know, I know the state of Florida had a couple of different organizations. I wish I would remember them, but they were saying, Please donate here. This will help us, you know, versus, you know, Joe’s, you know, whatever. I mean, but it just shows up everywhere. And, you know, they’re just shysters all the time, unfortunately. And, you know, we were just trying to make sure you’re cautioned against that. It’s like personal call you on the phone and say, hey, my brother was stuck, or you know, your son was stuck, or you know, these phone calls that happened trying to get swindled money, it’s gonna be big right now, there’s gonna be a lot of people calling you to swindle money, they’ll say that, they’ll say the Red Cross, they’ll say they’re somewhere else. So just really check the source. Really be careful taking calls, really be careful given money over the phone, that somebody calls you especially be the initiator of the call, find the organization you want to get to. And even when you check in on the internet, make sure you’re getting the getting something you know, you can sometimes just ask them questions. Well, what do you do? And you’ll find out real quick if they really know what they’re doing or they’re just some scam operation.

Jackie Critzer 6:14
Well, that’s that’s absolutely right. So the third thing you know, Scott’s return on the money Money makes the world go round. We all know and and if if you know folks who are down there, but I have family in the Port Charlotte Inglewood area, who even not today, you’re doing fine, thankfully, what a relief. But if you know people down there who need help, gather money for them. Instead of sending money to some organization that is solicited you definitely check your source do not respond, do not respond to emails, or phone calls that are asking for money, do not do it, you want to donate to the Red Cross, you want to donate to some of these great organizations who really thrive on donations, great, but go directly to their website, and even then, make sure you’re not on a phishing website, right? That’s trying to get your information and trying to be a clone of the real website. Just be very, very cautious. In fact, we, I spoke with some good friends of ours today. And one of the things they cautioned was the money. And the best thing you can do is if you know people reach out to your immediate network and just say, Hey, I’ve got family down there and that, you know, they lost their home, or they lost half their home or whatever the case may be. And I’m just collecting for them. If you have a way, you know, if you if you can donate money, because you don’t want to collect things that have to be mailed. Okay, so that’s important. Don’t don’t necessarily, you know, I wouldn’t say Oh, my dad needs, you know, kitty litter for their cats. And they need supplies, because I can’t get it there. Yeah. You know, Katrina, I learned today that they didn’t receive mail for six months. So sending stuff unhelpful. But if you know people, one of the things you can do is either gather money for them, and then get it to them or find organizations that you want to financially support, but you go to them definitely don’t is don’t respond to an email and unsolicited email or phone call.

Scott Cardani 8:17
Or even somebody calling you and saying, Hey, we found your loved one here. My mom almost felt us my fell to that scam before where my cousin was in. I don’t know. It’s like Puerto Rico or something. And she got a scam call saying, Hey, he’s been hurt, and we need money, the hospital and it just it all sounds really legit. They even sometimes have a first name right? Or they can sometimes get information, little bits of information to make you believe. And they’re really good at manipulating you. So it’s really, really important that you you know, you talk directly as you can to people. I mean, Jackie, and I’ve almost been scammed many times because these people are good at it. And you have to slow your roll, as we say, and just really be mindful, okay, look, I need to get this to a good place. I need to do a good thing here. And rushing never helps. It’s like if we jumped on the highway right now and drove down to Florida. We might be causing unnecessary traffic, if everybody did that. And they rescuers and the people who really need to be on the streets right now can’t get through because we’re causing that’s happened. So again, just be be mindful. We want to encourage your heart to help, obviously. And it’s so wonderful. We’re one of the few countries like that. You know that it’s just amazing how people in United States help. It really is it’s always blown me away.

Jackie Critzer 9:37
Well, for sure. And so, on the backside of this, these are the things you can do right now, if you’re not already part of these organizations. We’ve talked about that. But there’s some really important things about what not to do. And some of this comes from a police officer, a former police officer who was in in Seidel, in very near New Orleans at Katrina. And so just a little shout out to Jason and Michelle Bettis Thanks for talking this morning. But really, he was helpful in saying, Look, definitely don’t just show up, please just don’t show up and get in the way and cause more problems. Again, he he, in fact, said that we have procedures in place, and they’re not perfect, but they they do have the teams to go and to look for the people and to try to rescue who’s there and who can be rescued, because the first few days really are search and rescue. And sadly, it does become a recovery effort, right? Sometimes you come across people who weren’t rescued or didn’t, didn’t survive. And so these, these things have to take place. First. All of this recovery is in stages. And once you get past the life stage, where you’re looking and doing the search and rescue. At the same time, really, you’re trying to get the roads passable. Okay, because you can’t, you can’t get supplies into people, you can’t get food into people and water into people, even the linemen have to wait for the roads to be passable. And we’ve seen on TV, the lines and lines and lines of road traffic full of linemen who are ready to get down there and get these 2 million people back their power. So definitely don’t go unless you’re part of a team and established team that has already, you know, a lot of them already on their way. Right. They’re not going today, they left last weekend in preparation. One of the other things Scott, I think brought up the other day was look, when you’re going down, they’re just trying to be helpful. And you’re taking up a hotel room, you are taking a room away from someone who’s been displaced. Or maybe you’re taking, you know, search and rescue teams, you’re taking other volunteers, places that already have the need for those rooms. So be patient and and wait for an opportunity that that makes the most sense for you. We really did talk about also not sending money, just be careful about where you send the money, don’t don’t do it in an unsolicited sort of way. And, importantly, you’ve got to be patient. These folks down here don’t have communications right now. It’s like the post apocalypse down there. They don’t have cell towers, they don’t have Wi Fi, they don’t have methods to communicate. And it may be days before before they can. So not only when there’s people like me. And of course everyone here knows my family when we’re waiting to hear from them. It’s hard. But thankfully, we had a network of people who were able to even go to their house and find out. Understand that if somebody is hurt, okay, and they’re receiving emergency medical care, there are protocols and ways to get a hold of you. If somebody has been hurt, you will get that information. So sometimes no news is the better news. And then and then the worst case scenario, if somebody has passed, you’re you’re going to get that information as well, if if if a body is recovered, you’re going to find that out as well. So in these interim days, where we’re just waiting and hoping and praying that that our family members and our loved ones are okay, it’s important to be patient, then you’ve got the support families, okay, you’ve got the wives or the husbands of people who’ve gone down the line men or line women, I suppose, are those who, and the search and rescue teams who are going down and the family and friends that love and support them. Because we know that bad things happen when you go into those situations, because you just don’t know what you’re going to face. But it’s important for those folks to also remember that the supportive role is is hard, but to be to be very patient and to just wait for them to get back in touch with you. Sometimes satellite phone is really the only way to communicate. And there aren’t a lot of those isn’t as, as I understand.

Scott Cardani 13:26
Yeah. And like Jackie said, I think one of the things that we don’t think often is, you know, like insurance adjusters, they a lot of them are sent down out of their normal area, maybe out of here to go down there, they’re gone for a month and their families kind of left hanging in what used to be a two parent job, maybe it’s a one parent job right now our grandma is taking over and helping out. And those are really, really tangible ways we can help the process that don’t seem like it should, I’ll see like, we’re down there, we’re here. But those are really cool things you can do. And I you know, hey, I know John had to leave, and he’s or Jane had to leave, and she’s gonna be down here for a month, right? How can I support her family? How can I help them out? So first responders are, you know, they’re they’re gathering up first responders from all over the place. And so those guys get displaced for 30 days, 15 days, 10 days, whatever it is, but that’s still a load on that family that’s left here. So it’s a good way to look for opportunities there if you’re really looking for opportunities. And, you know, one of the things I thought of is Jackie was talking as I remember during Katrina, Katrina, a lot of people have in their houses here for people to stay in because these people are going to be displaced. I mean, if you had a house in Fort Myers, you don’t anymore. Yeah, it’s really kind of a scary situation. And you know, they may be displaced for months and a year or so. And those are opportunities. But again, you have to be really careful. You have to be very on your guard and unfortunately, because there are unfortunately in every disaster, it brings out the best and the worst in people. So you’re going to have the best people you’re going to have the worst people just be mindful. Be careful, be be vigilant in everything you do and just make sure You know, always help, oh, we’re not don’t ever hear say don’t help.

Jackie Critzer 15:05
But then do it in a way where you’re not jeopardizing yourself or your finances. You know, you brought up a good point. Again, Jason Michelle, thanks again for talking today. But one of the things they said was these people are called storm chasers. And no not the meteorological kind that are chasing your tornadoes and hurricanes. But but the predators who are looking for an opportunity to have you pay money up front, they said, that’s a big red flag, do not pay for services or work to be done. upfront, you pay as you go, you know, use common sense about that. But these, for example, I’m thinking these pool cages, right? I mean, we’ve seen them all that some of them were okay. Some of them are partially destroyed, some of them are just completely wiped out. Well, you don’t want an alligator in your pool either. So everybody’s going to be once they can’t, they’re going to be looking for either me on their phones are what’s this all this backup, they’re looking for someone for a company who will come and fix or replace their pool cage. And it’s first of all, that was a hot demand item before the hurricane now that afterwards, and there’s so much destruction from just pool cages, you’re going to encounter companies who are coming down to take an opportunity, and there are some who are legit, and who are going to want to come down because it’s a good money making opportunity. And then you’re gonna have those who say, I see a way to scam people. I’m gonna get this job started to $10,000 job. We wish a pool cage was that but let’s just for round numbers sake, say $10,000 How about you pay me, you know, $5,000, and I’ll get started. That’s, that’s usually a red flag, okay. And then what I learned today was that what will happen is they will promise the start of several projects. And once they think they have enough money, they’ve scammed enough money, they go on to the next community, and just do it again. So just be very wary of, of that sort of situation. Yeah, one other big danger that I learned of today was this way, if you’ve got a fallen tree, or a partially fallen tree, or it’s fallen, but it hasn’t broken. Apparently, this is a very dangerous thing. I don’t know much about this. I think you probably know a lot more about trees like that. But But Jason was saying that people will, not knowing really what they’re doing, go to cut the tree. And it’s like a loaded spring, and that tree will fall on them or it will spring but it’s just it’s it creates a very, very dangerous situation. So make sure that you operate within your skill set.

Scott Cardani 17:33
Yeah, that’s what we were saying earlier, stay in your lane, you know, don’t become a lumberjack. Because you can go to Lowe’s and get a chainsaw. chainsaws are incredibly dangerous. I mean, I use them all time. have most of my life. I’m very comfortable with one. But I’m telling you the number of times that it got dangerous with a leaning tree or you know, this kind of situation. So, yeah, stay in your lane, just because the needs there don’t go too far out trying to do something that you’ve never done before. Because there are repercussions that like she said, I mean, I’ve seen a tree that was knocked over spring back up. Because of the tap root, you know, and you took off a couple branches and all sudden it stood up and you’re like, What the heck just happened. So I mean, crazy things can happen. But like you said, you got to you got such pressure on that when you cut it, it can cause it could snap in your face, cause all kinds of problems. So many people die of that kind of stuff, doing stuff after a disaster that they just didn’t know how to do. They’re trying to hook up their generator that wasn’t hooked up and they get shocked. They run their generator in their house. You know, those kinds of things that we hear about nightmares, they leave candles burning all night. Just be mindful, stay in your lane. You know, ask for advice, ask for help. There’s plenty of people, we’re going to help you.

Jackie Critzer 18:48
But if you don’t know, ask for sure. Michelle, thank you. Thank you for also chiming in and saying you know, this is going to be difficult. But watching the news media will make it more difficult. You’re going to see the worst of the worst. You’re that’s part of it. Right? The viewership goes up when you can draw people in. It’s just like clickbait on the internet. Just be careful what you’re watching. If you’re looking for loved ones and waiting to hear from loved ones, it’s better to really temper how much media you’re watching how much news how much time you’re spending on doing that, because it can be it can really be upsetting and you can suffer. I mean sleepless nights and foodless days and to be cognizant of how much time you’re really putting into watching the media and watching what what the worst of the worst is. And not to say don’t watch the news. Please watch the news. But just be mindful of your own mental health and emotional health. As you wait to hear the news about loved ones.

Scott Cardani 19:46
Yeah, especially in that case. If you haven’t heard from anybody, and you’re just watching this videos you’re just going to be in it’s a nightmare spot because you’re going to be thinking this is the worst thing you’ve ever happened. And again, this was a horrific storm and we’re not minimizing that.

Jackie Critzer 19:58
Oh for sure. But we really just instead of taking our platform and talking about some legal issues, which I’m sure many, many legal issues will fall out from, from the storm, and the things we’ve even talked about today, we just wanted to take the day and really push this and say, Look, we know there’s a lot of people who want to help, because we have a heart to help we, I mean, it’s, I want to get in a car and drive down there. I won’t, obviously, for very many reasons, but it’s, it’s our heart. And I think a lot of people share that same desire. And so instead of just sitting here, feeling like your hands are tied, we wanted to give you a method and a way and an avenue to help where you can. And then to make sure that you avoid creating some situations that make you more of a liability than a help. So importantly, let search and rescue do their job. Okay, if you’re not already on the team, that’s okay, let them go down there and do their job, connect with a company connect with an organization that’s already doing that and find out how you can help through them rather than just going on your own and trying to try to help that way. Make sure that you if you give money and donate money that you do so through reputable organizations, and not through unsolicited emails, or phone calls, you go search, you go find the companies that you want to connect with. And if you have a family that you you know, want to sponsor, whether it’s friends, family, whatever, and you have a network of people that you can ask for money and ask for financial support, collect it for them, and then and then you’re able to send it to them directly. And then there’s no fees, and there’s no organization to get in the middle of that. Yeah, for sure. On the backside, what don’t just show up, please do not this definitely, uh, don’t, don’t just show up and make it worse. Again, do not send supply don’t try to send anything, the mail is not going to run for a while just just wait and be patient and connect with these organizations who are already in place and doing this. And remember that that, you know, the first thing they have to do is search and rescue. And that’s looking for life. At the same time. They’re trying to work on the roads to make them passable. So these linemen can get in and and if some already and they’re doing their jobs, and then comes the infrastructure. I assure you, there will be ample opportunity for you to assist this is going to probably take years, it’s a huge number of people impacted a huge part of Florida impacted, there will be opportunities for you to help just look for the ones that make the most sense, and are reputable organizations who are already established.

Scott Cardani 22:19
Again, remember that little key Make sure when you’re on the internet looking up that organization, you’re actually getting the organization because there are a lot of phishing schemes and sometimes you can tell by the way their, their their website is put together, you can see things other times it’s it’s really difficult. Some people are really good at a market completely. And so just try to be careful, you might want to make a phone call, Hey, I’m on your website, I’m looking at this, you know, I’m wondering about that, you know, there’s ways to screen it a little bit, the best you can, I mean, you still at the end may get ripped off and I you know it happens but do the best you can not to do that.

Jackie Critzer 22:27
And be patient. Be patient for your friends and family who who want to reach out to you as soon as they’re able, but communications just aren’t allowing that yet. The Wi Fi the internet, the mean power water, you know all of these is cellular service and I know they’re working hard to restore cellular service for for just this exact reason. But be sure to be patient whether you’re waiting to hear from a loved one who you know was down in the storm or you’re waiting to hear from someone that you know who’s already been deployed down there to work and in some sort of service connected capacity just be patient and and wait for for the right time instead of panicking and calling for well checks. I know that’s difficult to do. But But inundating the 911 service is down there for a while check because now you’re you’re worried that your service connected person isn’t responding is only going to clog up time and resources that they really should we didn’t get directed elsewhere.

Scott Cardani 23:46
It seems like such a good just remember we understand it seems like a good idea and just call the police and get a well check. Well, they’re they’re dealing with search and rescue and everywhere else. And it’s you know, they’re going to get through everybody and they’re going to do their job. They have a system like Jackie said in place. So us calling in, in doing that just again, clogs up for people down there who have a specific need the moment and they really need help and the lines are overwhelmed and the service is down like the infrastructure has been destroyed. So it takes a while like Jackie was saying so just be patient and do that do the things that are helpful. That’s really hard.

Jackie Critzer 24:21
Look, we will be back with more of our regular podcasts. If you have questions or insider information you want to share with us. We’re happy to share that as well. Where at [email protected] happy to hear from you. And look forward to seeing you on our next podcast.

Scott Cardani 24:37
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What To Do When… Outro 09:52
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of What To Do When… For more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.

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We look forward to helping you in this venture and Good Luck!