An initiative launched by five living former U.S. presidents to raise money for organizations assisting victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma announced Monday that it will expand its recovery efforts to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter banded together to create "One America Appeal" in the aftermath of Harvey, as the Atlantic coast was bracing for Irma.
Donations made at OneAmericaAppeal.org can be directed to a specific recovery effort by using the drop-down menu in the website's donation section.
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Funds for Hurricane Maria efforts will be channeled to Unidos Por Puerto Rico and Fund for the Virgin Island.
The hurricanes represent the latest philanthropic collaboration by living ex-U.S. presidents and their first joint effort since President Donald Trump's election. The elder Bush and Clinton raised money for victims of the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2005 and Hurricane Katrina in 2006. After Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010, Obama tapped Clinton and the younger Bush to lead a relief effort.
For the Bush family, Harvey struck close to home. George H.W. Bush lives part of the year in Houston while George W. Bush, a former Texas governor, lives in Dallas.
Organizers said a special restricted account had been established through the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation to collect and quickly distribute donations. Officials said "100 cents out of every dollar" donated will help hurricane victims. All donations are tax-deductible.
President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the appeal Thursday evening saying: "We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water. I’m proud to stand with Presidents for #OneAmericaAppeal."
The effort was launched with a public service announcement broadcast on NBC during the Thursday night kickoff of the NFL season.
Donations designated to help victims of Harvey will be distributed to the Houston Harvey Relief Fund and the Rebuild Texas Fund. The appeal is expanding to help those affected by Irma, which could strike south Florida and the state's Atlantic Coast and then move up into Georgia and South Carolina.
Harvey caused widespread flooding in Houston and elsewhere and has been blamed for at least 71 deaths, while damaging more than 200,000 homes. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested that Harvey's damages could cost up to $180 billion, even more than from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.