August 29, 2017

How to Help After Hurricane Harvey

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Hurricane Harvey has devastated parts of the eastern Texas coast and Louisiana with unprecedented rainfall and flooding. FEMA’s latest estimates are 30,000 people may need shelter and 450,000 may qualify for federal flood victim assistance. Americans across the country want to help. We offer tips for effective disaster giving below, with spotlights on select organizations providing targeted services or requests. In addition to money and materials, people wanting to help can volunteer their time, donate blood or dedicate unique skills to rebuilding efforts in the weeks to come.

Here’s how to help in a disaster:

1. Give Money.  In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, people want to give any and everything that can help survivors. Financial support is the most valuable and effective donation you can make. Over time, in-kind gifts like clothes and furniture, will be needed, but right now, emergency responders and charitable organizations are the best equipped to continue dangerous search and rescue operations and provide basic necessities. You can support the work of those organizations that may be overwhelmed right now, like hospitals, food banks, shelters and first responder organizations.

Charity spotlight:

Team Rubicon unites military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Team Rubicon has deployed swift water rescue volunteer teams to support Texas’ strained emergency services.

Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies is focused on emergency assistance to people with disabilities. They have rescued hundreds of disabled survivors so far and are providing sign language interpreters, durable medical equipment and assistive technology and disability accommodations in temporary shelters.

2. Support a Wish List.  Some charities are using online platforms to request the most needed items. Using Amazon Wish Lists and other web resources mean that people all over the country or the world can send items directly to the charities delivering services to survivors. Please note donor-advised funds cannot be used to make in-kind donations.

Charity spotlight:     

Texas SPCA chapters are requesting pet food and supplies

Austin Diaper Bank is collecting diapers and supplies for babies and seniors

American Red Cross is collecting electronics and bedding to make shelters more comfortable

3. Stay Committed.  When Hurricane Harvey finally relents and the news cycle moves on, the recovery process will begin. But rebuilding entire communities in the wake of a disaster is a long and challenging process. Committing to monthly donations or, if you’re in the area, regularly volunteering your time will help organizations sustain momentum and minimize their overhead. You can also shop small businesses in the area, many of which are also online, to help boost a local economy weakened by the storm.

Charity spotlight:

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group was organized to respond to the long-term recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Donors can contribute money, time or materials.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was organized to established at the Greater Houston Community Foundation by Houston’s Mayor to assist survivors of the floods. Donors can make online donations.