Western Union’s global network helps communities around the world when disaster strikes

Giving By Sarah Johnson Aug 22, 2018

When a major natural disaster strikes, families are uprooted, homes are destroyed, and infrastructure is devastated. Entire landscapes are suddenly distorted and in need of support and aid to recover. Sadly, these disasters affect communities around the world every year.

According to the International Disaster Database, Em-Dat, more than 200 million people, on average, are affected by natural disasters each year. For victims of natural disasters, necessities quickly become even more essential. Along with the need for food and shelter, there’s also the impact to the area’s infrastructure that can create even more challenges to those trying to rebuild and restore control of their lives. In fact, a World Bank report from 2016 estimated that each year 26 million people are forced into poverty by catastrophes, while one in four small businesses will experience a disruptive natural disaster, and of those, 43 percent won’t recover.

The 2017 hurricane season was extremely active and resulted in significant damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year, Puerto Rico struggled to recover after Hurricane Maria pummelled the island territory as a Category 4 storm. While the storm’s official death toll tallied 64 people, a new Harvard study published May 29 estimates that Maria and its aftermath is responsible for more than 4,600 deaths in Puerto Rico.

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm, it became the country’s first major hurricane since 2005 and the first major hurricane to strike southern Texas since 1970. Causing nearly US $125 billion in damage, Harvey ranks as the second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900.

With such devastation, storm-stricken communities needed outside aid to recover. The Western Union Company responded, enabling fee-free transfers to the affected areas, airlifting cash into Puerto Rico and storing it securely until the Agent network was restored.

Western Union and the Western Union Foundation were at the forefront of major natural disasters, including Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Last year, the Western Union Foundation responded to 13 disasters around the world.

Western Union’s support through these calamities is strengthened by the Foundation’s long-standing relationship with the Red Cross. With the support of the Foundation, the Red Cross, is able to provide on-the-ground support for those in need.

As a leader in global cross-border, cross-currency money movement, placing physical currency directly into the hands of customers has long been a core strength at Western Union. Our ability to move cash quickly and efficiently, along with our global reach, puts us in a unique position to aid those in need and help with recovery.

Western Union is unwavering in its commitment to help communities in crisis through disaster relief and humanitarian aid.

The Western Union Foundation is an independently managed 501(c)(3), United States non-profit corporation.