YMCA Disaster Response

Every day, YMCAs respond to the specific needs of the communities they serve. When disasters strike, we are there to take action and provide support to those affected.

YMCA Disaster Response

COVID-19 Emergency Services

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented and Ys are responding in a variety of ways to meet community needs.

Amid school closures and economic uncertainty, a rapidly increasing number of people are facing food insecurity. In response, hundreds of Ys nationwide are providing free grab-and-go meals to help address this serious issue.


With COVID-19-related school closures and the urgency for essential workers to report to work, there is a critical need for safe child care options across the country. In response, the Y—one of the nation’s largest and most trusted providers of child care services—is offering emergency child care at more than 1,000 sites for families of medical personnel, essential employees and first responders.


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Global COVID-19 Response

Across the world, YMCAs are responding to the COVID-19 humanitarian crisis with hope and resilience. In most of the developing countries where the YMCA has a presence, less than 1% are vaccinated. There is an urgent need to address the following:

  • Growing disparities, including advocating for free and equitable vaccine access for all
  • Access to food, shelter, education, mental health support, employment and more
  • Community outreach
  • Hosting vaccination centers
  • Support for YMCA Staff affected by Covid-19


Support Ys as they respond to these critical needs globally through donating to YMCA World Service.


India is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals and health services. As of May 4, 2021, India surpassed 20 million cases with over 350,000 reported cases per day, and 3,500 deaths in 24 hours. YMCA Madurai is responding by:

  • Distributing food and hygiene items and health education campaigns
  • Distributing face masks made by women in their YMCA entrepreneurship program
  • Making home visits to program participants, including young people with hearing impairment and mental disabilities and participants in YMCA tutoring programs



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Wildfires, YMCA of the Rockies

YMCA of the Rockies is used to helping in times of need. They've provided respite for healthcare workers, shelter for those displaced by natural disasters across the U.S., free stays for families dealing with childhood critical illness and so much more.

This year brought the opportunity to serve their local communities of Estes Park and Grand County, Colorado like never before. On August 13, the Cameron Peak Fire started about 18 miles from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. The next day, the Williams Fork Fire started just 10 miles from the Y's Snow Mountain Ranch.

As the fires grew, both YMCA properties remained unthreatened, providing an opportunity to serve the fire personnel arriving from across the country to fight the deadly fires. Learn more about how YMCA of the Rockies served as a vital resource for firefighters and evacuated families. DONATE TO HELP WITH WILDFIRE SUPPORT


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Wildfires, YMCA of Superior California

The devastation caused by wildfires in Northern California wildfires "has touched the lives of nearly everyone in the community," says YMCA of Superior California President & CEO Jay Lowden. Their Y is collecting "basic items that will help kids on their path back to a sense of normalcy, like backpacks & school supplies; new socks, shoes, underwear & t-shirts; diapers & wipes; new or gently used coats & jackets." If you do not live in the area, you can help by donating to Kid’s Fire Relief.

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YMCA Lebanon Appeal: Beirut Port Explosion Response

On August 4, 2020, there was a devastating explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon. Initial reports from the Lebanon YMCA describe the situation as catastrophic, with more than 35,000 homes destroyed, 300,000 people left homeless, over 150 fatalities, 5,000 people injured and more than 140 people missing as of August 7, 2020. YMCA of the USA is supporting the response to this crisis in coordination with the Lebanon YMCA.

YMCA disaster relief after Tornados in Tennessee

Tornadoes, Tennessee

Severe storms and at least one tornado slammed central Tennessee in the early hours on March 3, 2020 killing more than 20 people and leaving many more injured or homeless.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee's family wellness centers remained open, and the Downtown, Margaret Maddox and Northwest locations made showers available to members of the community who need them. One of the Y-CAP community outreach program sites sustained significant damage, though thankfully, no one there was injured.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee has listed ways that you can help their community recover. Please consider donating to their community partners.

Young girls sitting at a table drawing

Earthquake, Puerto Rico

Since December 28, 2019, Puerto Rico’s southern coast has experienced over 1,000 earthquakes, aftershocks and tremors, including a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on January 7th that toppled buildings, triggered power shutdowns across the entire island and drove over 5,000 people to flee their homes.

While tremors continue, this is the situation of the Ys of San Juan and Ponce as of January 31:

  • All Y staff and volunteers in Ponce and San Juan have been accounted for and safe. Some staff experienced damage to their homes.
  • YMCA Ponce staff are weathering the mental health impact of the continued emergency. Puerto Rico is still recovering from the trauma of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The fear and uncertainty of the series of earthquakes is a heavy toll on a population still in recovery.
  • YMCA San Juan’s health and wellness center flooded after a pipe broke, and staff discovered several cracks in the building.
  • YMCA Ponce’s pool is cracked and losing water. There are several cracks in the gym and the main building.

YMCA of the USA is working with both Ys to assess their most important needs:

  1. Keep the Ys open to serve community needs and provide stability to staff and their families.
  2. Provide mental health support to staff and volunteers to address anxiety.
  3. Assist with urgent repairs and infrastructure needs including but not limited to structural inspections, generator repairs, etc.
  4. Provide emergency-phase community programs, such as day camp for while schools remain closed. As of Jan. 28, only 20% of the schools of Puerto Rico had reopened.

How Can You Help?

  1. Raise awareness about the situation in Puerto Rico with your YMCA and community
  2. GIVE

Note: Please write "Puerto Rico " in the Comments/Special Instructions box.

YMCA disaster relief after typhoon wrecks the Philippines

Typhoon Tisoy in Albay, Philippines

On December 2, 2019 Typhoon Tisoy hit the province of Albay, Philippines with a strength of 130 mph. Trees were uprooted, homes collapsed and electrical posts are damaged throughout Albay.

Fortunately, all YMCA Albay staff and volunteers were safe. However, the YMCA sustained severe damage to its facilities and dealt with a blackout, water shortage and unreliable internet and telephone service. Their office's roof and ceiling were damaged, windows were shattered and the pool was filled with hazardous debris.

The YMCA has estimated the total immediate damage to be around USD $16,000 and long-term rehabilitation to make the facility more resilient to future typhoons and storms would cost roughly USD $40,000. At this time, financial contributions are the most effective way to help.

About YMCA Albay

Albay is a province in the Philippines with one million people and several volcanoes, lakes and a vast oceanfront. While naturally beautiful, Albay is subject to regular natural disasters, including typhoons and volcanic eruptions, which heighten the risk for poverty, unemployment and displacement.

YMCA Albay works in neighborhoods to address pressing community needs and serves about three thousand young people annually. With a staff of just four people, the YMCA's main focus includes economic empowerment and social enterprise, youth-led health education and recreation programs.

Note: If donating, please write "YMCA Albay" in the Comments/Special Instructions box.

Wreckage after hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas

On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Elbow Cay, Bahamas, after reaching Category 5, with sustained winds of 185 mph. Dorian made another landfall on Grand Bahama several hours later at the same intensity. Initial reports mention devastation on the islands’ infrastructure and at least 50 fatalities.

YMCA of Grand Bahama has started the clean-up, removal of debris, gunk and roofing tiles, and discussed a plan of action. The team is assessing converting the basketball gym into a shelter for displaced families and allow community members to drop-in, shower and rest at the YMCA. They also anticipate that they will have the capacity to accept in-kind donations (canned food, water, clothes, first-aid kits, blankets, flashlights, batteries, etc.). YMCA Bahamas will not have the capacity to pay for shipping costs. The government will allow importing these types of items duty-free for 30 days.

Wreckage after tornados devastate Jefferson City

Tornado in Jefferson City, Missouri

Jefferson City, Missouri was hit by a devastating tornado on May 23, 2019 that left one dead and dozens injured and displaced. Immediately following the tornado, Jefferson City Area YMCA staff provided water and shelter for neighbors displaced by the tornado. The Y continued to serve as a gathering place for volunteers and families who were unable to return to their homes. The Firley YMCA branch suffered significant damage and remains closed. Please consider donating to Jefferson City Area YMCA to help them continue serving their community.

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Tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia

A series of deadly tornadoes touched down in communities in Alabama and Georgia on March 4, 2019, killing 23 and leaving many others homeless.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus, GA in partnership with the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and Georgia Red Cross collected items to assist in tornado relief efforts. These were the most requested items:

  • Bottled Water
  • Non-Perishable Food
  • Diapers
  • Toiletries

For more information on assisting victims, please contact [email protected].

Anchorage, Alaska

7.0 Magnitude Earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska​

Anchorage, Alaska was seriously affected by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on November 30, 2018, along with more than 1,000 damaging aftershocks. Thankfully, no one at the YMCA of Anchorage Alaska was physically injured. However, the facility was badly damaged and repairs estimated to cost between $750,000 and $1,500,000 will not be covered by insurance. Please consider donating to the YMCA of Anchorage Alaska to help them continue serving their community.

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Wildfire Relief Efforts in California

The Camp Fire in Northern California is on record as the deadliest fire in California history. It destroyed residences and homes over a 153,000 acre area, leaving thousands homeless. The Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire in Southern California have also led to loss of life, homelessness and property damage.

Launched in response to the recent devastation from these fires and the Borderline shooting in Ventura County, California Strong has partnered with the Southeast Ventura County YMCA to provide direct financial assistance (at 100% of contributions) to individual victims of the fires and other tragedies. Please consider donating to California Strong and the California State Alliance of YMCAs will match contributions up to $25,000.

This campaign is now closed. Thanks to support from donors like you, the California Strong campaign surpassed its goal of raising $2 million to assist those effected by the Camp, Woolsey and Hill Fires!

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Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts in Georgia

Hurricane Michael caused devastation and loss of life throughout the southeast. Nine Ys were in the direct path of Hurricane Michael, and fortunately most suffered only minor facility damage. However, the communities served by the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA and the Albany Area YMCA were hit hard and are in need of financial assistance.

Albany Area YMCA in Albany, Georgia worked with the Red Cross to distribute “Comfort Kits”, house 80 Red Cross volunteers and provide showers to anyone in the community who was without power. They also provided holiday camp daycare services while schools remained closed.

Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA in Bainbridge, Georgia provided showers, coffee and respite for members of the community. They also provided holiday camp daycare services while schools remained closed.

Note: Donors should indicate zip code 39819 on the donation form.

Disaster relief after hurricane Florence in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence caused devastating flooding and wind damage and loss of life August 31 through September 19, 2018, especially in coastal areas in North Carolina. Ys responded to their communities' many needs as residents rebuild their lives.

YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina assisted with clean-up, water and food delivery, and provided general disaster assistance to the community. They also provided free childcare until school resumed. Please consider donating so that they can continue helping their community rebuild.

Twin Rivers YMCA in New Bern, North Carolina provided hot showers for community members and rescue workers, a place to sleep for volunteers, staging space for local energy crews and activity space for kids from Easter Seals. They also provided full-day childcare to children enrolled in their afterschool program while schools were closed. Please consider donating so that they can continue helping their community recover.

YMCA provides relief after gas explosion

Victims of Gas Explosions & Fires in Massachusetts

Gas explosions set off over 60 fires in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, Massachusetts on September 13, 2018, killing two and temporarily displacing thousands. Merrimack Valley YMCA has been collecting food pantry items, toiletries and donations to support those impacted by the disaster, many of whom live with chronic food insecurity. Please consider donating money or items on their list.

Flags blowing in the wind

Relief Efforts for Victims of the Carr Fire in California

The Carr Fire devastated residents of Shasta County and Trinity County from July 23 to September 4, 2018, burning over 229,000 acres, destroying more than 1,000 residences, killing eight people and displacing 38,000. Shasta Family YMCA offered free use of the facility to evacuees, free memberships to anyone who lost their home or was temporarily displaced and a free hourly day camp so parents could take care of fire-related chores and business. Please consider making a donation or contacting Shasta Family YMCA to help those affected.

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Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico, leaving unimaginable destruction and suffering in its wake. The San Juan and Ponce YMCAs suffered significant damage, but made repairs quickly and reopened their facilities, providing free programs and free meals, hosting volunteers and collecting donations for rural and mountain communities.

December 2017 Update

As the emergency response transitions to a long-term recovery and rebuilding effort on the island, the Puerto Rico YMCAs are preparing to do their part. In addition to financial resources, YMCA of the USA is providing the technical expertise of two YMCA professionals with the cultural and community-building expertise to assist the Puerto Rico YMCAs in their planning and rebuilding efforts. On December 4, they traveled to Puerto Rico to visit with, listen to and learn from Y staff and volunteers, with a goal of better understanding conditions on the island and the needs of the YMCAs and the communities they serve. Following their visit, they will develop recommendations to enhance the recovery effort and, in support of Y leaders on the island, create a long-term rebuilding strategy.

September 2017 Update

Both Y facilities in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico's two largest cities, suffered significant wind and water damage but remain structurally intact.

CEOs Maritza Correa in Ponce and Cora Arce Rivera in San Juan have been working around the clock since Maria made landfall on Sept. 20. Their efforts to comfort local staff and organize recovery while trying to connect with the outside world and the larger Y Movement—all with limited to no cell or Internet services—has been inspirational.

Cut off by impassible roads, with limited gas and diesel and no electrical power, the staff teams of both Ys have done a remarkable job getting their facilities prepared to reopen as soon as possible. They are working with the Red Cross and the United Way, so the two Y facilities can serve as community distribution sites, staging areas for first responders and refugee shelters.

Disaster relief after hurricane Irma in Florida

Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts in Florida

Hurricane Irma inflicted terrible damage on communities across Florida, and many people were in need of shelter, safety and support. YMCAs across the state stepped forward to meet these needs and any others that may arise as communities recovered and rebuilt.

This campaign is now closed. Thanks for your support for the communities in Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma! Check below for updates on how Ys in Florida responded to Hurricane Irma:

YMCA of South Florida: After Irma

Hurricane Harvey

Rescue Efforts in Texas Following Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey left unprecedented flooding and destruction in its wake in Southeast Texas. Many YMCAs in the region sustained significant damage and were without power. Ys that were operational became safe havens for the stranded and homeless—a place where families and individuals alike could find electricity, a hot shower and a comforting environment.

This campaign is now closed. Thanks for your support for the communities in Texas impacted by Hurricane Harvey!

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