It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Harvey initially wreaked havoc on the greater Houston area, southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. Now we face the blows of Irma in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. These are scary times.
Thanks to caring people showing up with generous gifts of time, heart, and financial resources, it’s hard not to focus on the beauty of humanity. Let’s not live in that glow of celebration, though. We have more work to do!
Let’s get down to business.
Some shelters away from the flooded areas received new evacuees as recently as Tuesday. Many people had been living in holding shelters until transportation and longer-term space became available.
It’s been rough for a lot of people. No one dreams of sleeping on a cot with strangers in whispering distance. And few would consider a room large enough to hold monster truck rallies and rodeos as cozy. That said, these facilities address an immediate need for survival. This is only possible with cash donations and volunteers, coordinated by professional teams. We appreciate all of you. We also have our eye on the longer-term needs.
As the triage phase wanes, recovery requirements increase. People returning to their homes now seek help with safe clean-up work. Most folks are unsure how to navigate the paperwork to file claims. And, even the most strong among us face uncertainty and the worries about financial hits. Everyone is vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
It’s all literally the worst.
Hang on, though. Beautiful people who we referenced at the beginning of this blog–we still need you. And your friends. And their friends.
The ongoing recovery battle can be overwhelming. We get it. That’s why we will continue to update this reference guide for people looking to volunteer and contribute monetary gifts.
Prayers go out to everyone affected by this season’s ferocious hurricanes. We sincerely appreciate every dime and minute given to take care of those in crisis as well as efforts that support long-term recovery.
Send money to a reputable agency already working to support relief in Houston and the greater South Texas area. A financial donation will make more of an impact than sending groceries or household items.
Why? Demand is hard to predict, and sorting shipments may not be the best use of volunteers’ time. Also, consider the purchasing power of nonprofit organizations who can buy in bulk using tax-exempt status. In addition, local distribution costs are lower than the price of shipping. A cash donation stretches the value of your contribution to get more diapers, granola bars, kibble, blankets, or cleaning supplies to those who need them.
Your time is always valuable. When looking to volunteer, turn to the pros. Nonprofit organizations have a handle on how to assess a community’s needs. They also have coordinators that can assign tasks efficiently to maximize the results of your efforts.
On the other hand, do not wait for instruction to lend a hand to a neighbor. Be a source of comfort. Think of regular tasks that may be extremely difficult right now. Do those things. Deliver a meal. Do a load of laundry. Drop off a first aid kit. Ask what else they need. Ask what concerns them the most. Drive them to school, work, or appointments. Offer to box up electronics, paperwork, and sentimental objects. Store these items in your house, out of the flood zone. Above all, treat people affected by the flood with dignity.
Recovery will require ongoing support.
We stand with Houston not only in the throes of crisis but also in the long run. Follow our blog for a list of organizations and funds that need your support today for rescue and refuge efforts. Stay tuned for ways to help with clean-up, rebuilding, and medical and mental health care in the months and years ahead.
Where to donate and volunteer
Food and Water
This organization allocates resources to food banks, including those specifically working to feed those in need as a result of Hurricane Harvey: North Texas Food Bank, Houston Food Bank, South Texas Food Bank, & Southeast Texas Food Bank
Shelter and Home Restoration
Habitat for Humanity
The regular efforts of Habitat Humanity will increase in the areas of Texas and Louisiana affected by flooding. They urge people to donate and volunteer now and continue to do so in the future in anticipation of ongoing needs.
Dallas residents may invite evacuees to rent a room or an entire house at no cost through September 25 using the Airbnb Disaster Response Program. Several hundred homes are already listed on the site.
Red Cross Medical and Mental Health Care Volunteers Needed
If you are a medical and/or mental health care provider, you may be eligible to deploy with the Red Cross to help those in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. See qualifications and fill out application.
Agencies allocating resources to a variety of localized efforts
Mass Care Task Force
Per the organization’s website: The Mass Care Task Force (MCTF) is a collaboration between the American Red Cross North Texas Region, The Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command, the North Texas Food Bank and VolunteerNow. The MCTF is activated to address humanitarian needs resulting from major disasters and works together to leverage the strengths of each partner agency. Our purpose is to support the immediate need for food, shelter, volunteers, communication, and management in a catastrophe.
The United Way
Contributions made to the national United Way Harvey Recovery Fund will be distributed to the United Ways in the most affected areas, as listed in this press release: United Way Establishes National Recovery Fund to Benefit Areas Affected by Hurricane Harvey
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is seeking monetary contributions to prepare their North Texas partners for longer-term relief efforts that extend beyond the immediate triage stage.
To volunteer at the mega shelter in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you will need to register and pass a background check. We suggest initiating that process as soon as possible to avoid any delays in your eligibility to serve. Create an account on Voly.org and indicate your areas of interest.
The YMCA of Greater Houston
While many YMCA centers in Houston were closed due to flooding, those that are open offer basic services to those in need. Follow their blog for updates on facilities and specific offerings: YMCA: Support Harvey Relief Efforts
Animal Rescue and Care
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Hundreds of animals impacted by Harvey have been moved to safety through the SPCA of Texas. Read about rescue efforts as well as how pet parents can prepare for a disaster. Donate to the ASPCA. The ASPCA also provided links to these local affiliates that need funding: Houston SPCA, SPCA of Texas (Dallas), Austin Humane Society, Citizens for Animal Protection, Houston Humane, Cattery in Corpus Christie, Emancipet Houston
To help animals and their humans who are affected by Harvey, Houston PetSet created the Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. Donations will support local animal welfare-related non-profits.
Data and Equipment Recovery
Can you help?
Does your business offer data and equipment recovery? Consider providing service at a discount or no charge to Texas residents with files and hardware affected by water damage.
DriveSavers Data Recovery
Floods have damaged the electronics many Houston-area residents rely on to access essential data. Texas residents will receive free data recovery through DriveSavers. This may apply to laptops, external hard drives, phones, and other devices. See press release for more details and requirements.
ACE Data Recovery
To South Texas from Dallas, Chicago, Ohio, Madison, Milwaukee, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Atlanta with love