Tropical Storm Hilary: Border Region Response

We hope that you and yours weathered the recent storm safely. Thankfully the overall damage locally seems to have been much less than it could have been. Nonetheless, we know that those with the least stability to begin with suffer the most. While one person’s roof held up, another’s tarp was inadequate. As an employee logged in remotely, it took another person two hours to get to work because of changed bus routes. Yet, our lives are interconnected and interdependent. Our charge in philanthropy is to support those who bear the brunt of events like Hilary. And we know that the people, culture, and weather in our region move across the political boundaries of county and country. Below is a summary of known impacts and how you can support a safe and speedy recovery.  

Baja California bore the most extreme impacts, seeing streets turned to raging rivers and homes swept away. Their road to recovery will be a long process, impacting the ability of people who work and go to school on both sides of the border and the many towns whose economy depend on commerce and tourism connected to the United States. The International Community Foundation activated its Disaster Relief Fund last Saturday as the storm made landfall and is providing support to recover and rebuild through a network of partners. Consider a contribution to this fund that allows anyone to be part of a critical binational approach. Contact Lety Martinez Hermosillo ([email protected]) at the International Community Foundation to learn more. 

Imperial County saw winds uproot trees and flooding wash away streets, especially in unincorporated towns where power was out for up to 20 hours and people’s homes were inundated. At least one school district is closed for an undetermined amount of time as it cleans and repairs facilities to safely receive students from the surrounding area. To help the Imperial Valley’s residents recover and build stronger, please direct funding to any grantees you have or are considering, especially in Ocotillo, Niland, Salton Sea Beach, Bombay Beach, and Winterhaven. If you do not have relationships but want to support the Imperial County efforts, contact us to be referred to regional funders, government, and nonprofits. 

San Diego County experienced its greatest rainfall in decades, yet coped well overall. When we look beyond the average experience and into individual impacts, the pains are clear. Unhoused individuals lost belongings and the safe community space they had built. Parents scrambled to find childcare while schools delayed opening. And first responders risked personal safety to care for those in need. Rapid response funds have not been activated, but please check in with your grantees to see if any special response is called for to support their clients and staff, as this storm added yet another stressor to their daily work. You can contact Lived Experience Advisers and other nonprofits serving people experiencing homelessness to help provide new bedding, clothes, and socks. Please contact Catalyst if you are interested in learning more about how you can support San Diego County recovery needs.  

Please share your thoughts on how we can best help you be prepared and responsive in the future. If you want to learn more about systemic prevention and infrastructure, please join us at a meeting of the Climate Funders Collaborative to learn more about how to support a climate resilient region, the Binational Migration Funders to connect with a multinational approach to stability, or Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego to understand the region’s homelessness prevention system. 

Please contact Catalyst’s President & CEO Megan Thomas ([email protected]) with any thoughts or questions; we are always available to help. 


Storm in Baja California image credits: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images