How hurricanes demonstrate the need for shelter cooperatives



Introduction by Helen Brandt

Evacuation orders are issued when hazardous events such as hurricanes and wildfires are imminent. Persons with the resources often leave before the orders are issued. Those left behind often do not have the economic or logistical resources to evacuate when ordered to do so. They include the poor, elderly and the disabled. They are dependent on state agencies to help them leave.

An alternative to depending on state or federal help is membership in a Shelter Cooperative, which provides for people’s needs before the disaster. As the name suggests, members contribute to this nonprofit organization and are entitled to receive its benefits. Arrangements for messaging each member when NOAA issues a hurricane watch, carpools for transporting the members, and pre-arranged shelters are components of the Shelter Cooperative.

The Shelter Cooperative can be established as a type of democratic mutual insurance cooperative in which the insured and the insurers are the same people, all participating in its benefits and expenses.

Read the full report by Andrew Vazquez, the lead of the Puerto Rico Action Group for Democracy At Work

Life After Disaster: How Hurricane Katrina Demonstrated The Need For Shelter Cooperatives 


Andrew Mercado Vázquez is currently the lead of the Puerto Rico Action Group for Democracy At Work. He specializes in cooperative law, corporate law, intellectual property law as well as Puerto Rico-U.S. relations issues. His additional research can be found here. Contact Andrew: [email protected]

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