We have all been shocked by the utter devastation Hurricane Irma has inflicted on parts of the Caribbean and Florida. One of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Irma has prompted the largest evacuation in the history of the Bahamas and one of the largest in the US. In its wake, thousands of people living in the region’s poorest, most vulnerable communities are left contemplating the cost of rebuilding their lives in the face of untold destruction, and the potential damage still to come. That’s why we need your help.

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We’re calling on our players to once again join Helping Hands and become part of the relief process. In conjunction with our emergency relief partner CARE International, today we’re launching our official Hurricane Irma Emergency Appeal. All the donations we receive through the PokerStars client and through StarsCoin donations will be matched $ for $ through The Stars Group’s corporate giving program, ‘Helping Hands’. And our players have a lot to live up to. In 2015, during our emergency appeal for victims of the Nepal Earthquake, you generously donated over $250k, which meant CARE received over $500K to help thousands of people in their hour of need.

There are a number of ways you can donate to the Hurricane Irma Emergency Appeal fund. You can donate StarsCoin, or donate to special dummy tournaments through our client. You can also visit CARE’s website and donate via a dedicated donation page, though unfortunately we’re unable to match funds donated through CARE. All the information you need if you want to help can be found here.

CARE Hurricane Irma 2 - Cuba - Credit CARE (002).jpgRelief workers begin to rebuild in Cuba. Photo courtesy of CARE

Right now CARE is working on the ground in both Cuba and Haiti, both of which have been severely affected.

In Cuba, more than 1 million people were evacuated after the Category 5 hurricane hit the island nation on Saturday night and continued its path of destruction throughout Sunday. Winds up to 155mph and 7-metre-high waves brought widespread devastation across the island and hitting communities with major flooding. This, and the lack of clean water means water-borne diseases such as cholera now pose a real threat to residents. Providing safe drinking water is a priority for CARE’s response.

“We knew Irma would be bad. Virtually the entire island has been impacted,” said Richard Paterson, CARE’s country representative in Cuba. “We’re particularly worried about those communities along the northern coast in the central provinces – we fear some of these areas have been left in ruins.”

In Haiti, the north of the country saw the worst of the storm with communities there facing widespread flooding and damage to roads and buildings. Early reports indicate that the damage in Haiti is worse than that inflicted by Hurricane Matthew just less than a year ago, which devastated the southern coast, killing more than 500 people and displacing more than 140,000.

Karl Paul, CARE’s country director in Haiti said. “One of our greatest concerns is for the very vulnerable families living in rural, mountainous areas. They live in fragile homes and many are so isolated that they may not have gotten word of Irma’s ferocious strength.”

CARE is responding in both Cuba and Haiti with a focus on clean water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter. In Haiti, they have also already distributed over 1,600 hot meals over the weekend.

Whilst our immediate appeal will focus on the most vulnerable people affected in Haiti and Cuba, we are also acutely aware of the loss felt in Florida, from where a number of our own staff were forced to relocate. Helping Hands will also be working with our partners in Florida to identify those with the most urgent need for help and will soon update our players on how they can lend their support.

At times like this, we’re always proud to see what an incredible difference the poker community can make by working together. Just $20 could give families devastated by Hurricane Irma emergency supplies like food, water purification and hygiene kits, just as they need it the most.

We know we can count on your support.


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