Hurricane Harvey dealt incredible damage to the Gulf Coast and left the Houston Metroplex with unprecedented flooding. Estimates of property damage and lost business are in the tens of BILLIONS of dollars. It is important to know how best you can help and what organizations are your best bets to donate to/volunteer with. Below are the 4 things to donate that will provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey:
The easiest things to donate to the relief effort is money. While food items may seem like the best thing to send, there may not be the infrastructure in place to store items that spoil easily. The other advantage to giving money is that once the water recedes, your donations will be able to go towards rebuilding infrastructure and helping wherever it’s needed at that time. There are hundreds of causes and organizations that you can specifically donate to. JJ Watt of the Houston Texans started his own YouCaring Fund for his Houston Flood Relief Fund that has gained traction on social media. The football star has had to raise his goal amount almost daily, starting at $500,000. Donations are currently more than 1.5 million dollars over the latest goal of $10,000,000. Other organizations that are accepting donations for general disaster relief are The Salvation Army, Global Giving, and United Way. If you would like to donate to a specific cause, great options include Teachers for Tomorrow who provide aid affected educators. You can make a donation specifically to the LGBTQ community through the Montrose Center and if you would like to help with Houston pets displaced by the storm, 4 Paws Farm is an excellent option.
Time is one of the most important things to donate. It’s something everyone has. Right now, staying put may be the best option rather than caravanning into Houston (unless you have a flat-bottomed boat and experience navigating shallow waters,) but as the flooding subsides opportunities will definitely present themselves. There will be plenty of volunteering opportunities to go around. If Hurricane Ike is anything to go off of, there will be a tremendous need for assistance in recovering personal belongings, especially those of the elderly and injured. There will be opportunities to help clean up public parks and other areas of the cities affected. In the Austin area, you can volunteer with the Austin Disaster Relief Network in a number of ways. You can sign up here.
Donating food can be tricky. As there is a tremendous strain on the infrastructure of the cities affected by Hurricane Harvey, storing food (especially perishables) can be a major problem. If you’re determined to give food, the main things to donate are nonperishable items and water. Items that can withstand heat exposure and prolonged storage are your best bets. Food donations can be taken to the Central Texas Food Bank. When it comes to clothing, the key things to donate are the essentials: clean socks, underwear, and shoes. Clothing donations (among other things like box fans, hand sanitizer, work gloves, etc.) can be dropped off at the Hope Family Thrift Store. Donations for the purchase of childcare supplies can be sent to the Texas Diaper Bank.
Blood may not be the first thing that anyone thinks of, but it is one of the most important and time sensitive things to donate. Donating blood is a great alternative to driving down south and your donation will absolutely reach someone in need in the affected area. There are three locations in Austin where you can donate through the organization We Are Blood, and if you are so inclined you can make an appointment today! If you are not in Austin, you can always find a location to give through The Red Cross.
During massive natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, it’s easy to forget about all of the pets that were left behind or otherwise displaced by the storm. Shelters are filled to the brim and many organizations including Austin Pets Alive have had to obtain an additional space due to overcrowding. You can help by adopting, fostering, or donating supplies/time. APA is expecting several hundred more displaced pets to come in, so the need for outside assistance will continue for weeks if not months.