100716hurricanerelief

Hurricane Matthew is finally behind us, but residents of Haiti, parts of the Caribbean, and much of the Southeastern US are still dealing with its disastrous effects. Severe weather events like Matthew have a tendency to bring people together — government officials pulling long hours, emergency response crews bravely rescuing those in need, and neighbors cooking meals and offering support. Big business has also stepped up to the plate to help families and communities get back on their feet following the storm. Apple partnered with the American Red Cross to collect donations in the iTunes store, Aetna is offering flexible prescription and care options for customers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, both Verizon and AT&T are providing unlimited data for customers impacted by Matthew, and AirBnB activated its “disaster response tool” allowing homeowners to offer free rooms to hurricane evacuees.

With the rising death toll in Haiti and the Southeast and many of our neighbors still without power or a safe way to get back to their homes, it’s hard to know the best way to help out. So, we’re doing what we do best – highlighting 12 Southern companies whose innovations can provide some solace, solution, or means of giving back to those in need.

  1. South Floridians who can’t easily grocery shop or cook due to Hurricane Matthew can turn to Deliver Lean, a Miami-based company founded in 2011. Deliver Lean delivers fresh, healthy meals and cold-pressed juices based on the customer’s diet preferences. The company was #124 on last year’s Inc. 500 and was voted 2015’s best diet by Harper’s Bazaar.
  2. Does your organization need to quickly and easily communicate with your employees following the storm? Austin-based AlertMedia is an enterprise mass notification software that delivers two-way communications and monitoring to keep your organization safe, informed, and connected. The startup has raised nearly $5 million since founding in 2013.
  3. For those looking to rally a group of volunteers, Austin startup SignUp.com (formerly Volunteer Spot), offers easy, user-friendly group coordination through free tools like activity SignUps, online calendars, and automated reminders. The female-founded enterprise has raised $4.1 million since 2012.
  4. Want to know your risk well before another major storm hits? Coastal Risk Consulting, a Plantation, Florida-based startup, provides coastal homeowners, businesses and local governments with an affordable, cloud-based flood risk assessment tool. Their assessments include anything from a general flood risk screening to 30-year flood predictions and real-time street level alerts.
  5. If you or someone you know has lost power following Hurricane Matthew, check out Frederick, MD-based StockPower, launched earlier this year. StockPower designs battery-based backup generator systems that provide clean, silent, automatic backup power to the entire home. Their systems can also pair with solar, wind, or hydro-electricity and can be programmed for peak energy offset.
  6. Those needing shelter after the storm may be interested in Reaction Housing. The Austin-based startup has created the Exo, an 80 square-foot disaster relief shelter that sleeps four adults and can be assembled by four people in just a few minutes. The shelters can also connect to electricity and are lightweight and stackable, meaning 16 of them can be transported on a truck at one time. Reaction raised $10 million last year.
  7. Communities affected by floodwaters can turn to Greensboro-based Warm Solar Marine, which launched a portable solar water purification system earlier this year. Their distiller uses patent pending technology to offer water purification and hot water production. Originally designed for use on boats and campers, the unit is completely modular and portable.
  8. Many Southeasterners are still without electricity after Hurricane Matthew, and utilities companies may be calling on help from mutual aid crews to restore power as quickly as possible. DC-based BitGrid has developed a cloud collaboration platform for municipal utilities (think: electricity, natural gas, water) to find mutual aid teams and communicate automated work orders in a faster and easier fashion.
  9. According to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or man-made disaster never reopen. DC-based Recovery Pledge launched in 2013 as a way to help small businesses bounce back following a natural disaster. Through what they call “consumer-driven disaster recovery,” individuals purchase recovery pledges, or vouchers that provide up-front cash for small businesses to get back on their feet. Once they’re up and running, customers can redeem these vouchers for goods and services at the business.
  10. Austin-based Chip’n Ship is a crowdgifting platform that, in addition to online shopping and regular gift giving, can be used for managing donations of goods to non-profits or victims of natural disasters.  The platform uses Amazon as its online retailer and is currently in beta.
  11. Help One Now is a Raleigh and Austin-based non-profit startup that partners with high-capacity community leaders to end the cycle of extreme poverty. Their work focuses primarily on communities in Peru, Dominican Republic, Africa, and Haiti. They’re communicating directly with local partners on the ground in Haiti to find out exactly what resources are needed following the devastating effects of Matthew, and using their online and text fundraising platform to raise a relief fund for those communities.
  12. Interested in starting your own project to help those affected by the storm but don’t have the funds or support to do it? Launched in 2012, DC-based StartSomeGood is a platform for social good initiatives to raise funds and grow a community of supporters. Changemakers can also access crowdfunding resources or apply to have their funds matched by StartSomeGood’s fundraising partners.

If you want additional ideas for how to get involved in Hurricane Matthew relief, here is a great list of organizations via The Weather Channel. Or, if you know of other Southern startups whose technology and forward-thinking innovations can be used for good, please let us know!

Photo credit: NBC Miami