How to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016
After drying them in the sun, a young girl gathers her family photos that were soaked by Hurricane Matthew's heavy rains, in Jeremie, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.
Dieu Nalio Chery/AP Photo

Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti, leaving hundreds dead. As the death toll continues to climb, relief groups are working to provide much-needed food, water and medical care. The storm also passed through Cuba and the Bahamas, leaving extensive damage.

The U.S. was hit hard as the storm made its way up the East Coast. It made landfall in South Carolina on Saturday and moved into North Carolina, where it caused record-breaking flooding. So far there have been 11 deaths in North Carolina, eight deaths in Florida, four in Georgia, three in South Carolina, and one in Virginia.

If you would like to help those affected by the storm, here's what you should keep in mind.

Check the charity

Before you donate to a charity, make sure you know where your aid is going. The Center for International Disaster Information has compiled a list of charities that are sending help, and it recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.

Make sure your donation is secure by going through an organization's official website or sending a check in the mail. Charity Navigator says you should never donate over the phone, email or unknown social media pages, as these are easier for scammers to target.

Give cash, not supplies

Most charities prefer monetary donations, especially if you plan to donate internationally. These are more flexible and cause less of a strain on the charity, allowing them to help more, the CIDI explained.

"Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods," the organization explained on its website.

Consider volunteering

The Red Cross has put out a call for volunteers to help the affected areas in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Volunteer Florida also has a form you can fill out to learn more.

Overseas, however, the CIDI says you should not expect organizations to ask the general public to volunteer following big disasters like these. That's because experts are needed.

"Candidates with the greatest likelihood of being chosen have fluency in the language of the disaster-affected area, prior relief experience, and expertise in technical fields such as medicine, communications, logistics, water/sanitation and engineering," the CIDI explained.

Know that blood is needed

If you can't donate money or travel to affected areas, consider donating blood. The Red Cross had to cancel blood drives because of the storm, adding to an already urgent need for blood and platelets. The organization encourages everyone in parts of the country that aren't affected, especially people who have type O blood, to make an appointment.