The devastating tropical storm known as Hurricane Harvey has broken records for delivering the most rain from a storm in the continental United States. It’s estimated the storm has left behind more than 24 trillion gallons of water, and about 19 trillion of those gallons have flooded the greater Houston area and Southeast Texas. There are more than 30,000 people seeking refuge in 230 shelters across the state. Mosques, churches, and privately owned furniture stores have opened their doors to those displaced by the tropical storm. About 4,000 homes, mostly west of the reservoirs, have flooded as the rising reservoirs encroached on private land. Water is as much as six feet deep in some subdivisions, and some homes will likely remain inundated for weeks. The storm made its second landfall the morning of August 30, just west of Cameron, Louisiana, and began moving northeast.
Fortunately, there are ways you can help. We found some organizations that are supporting local communities and taking donations.
The Houston Food Bank is asking for food and monetary donations as well as volunteers to help out at this time. All donations will continue to help those affected by the hurricane, since it is anticipated that many residents will rely on these resources for some time. Right now, the most needed items are: canned ready-to-eat items with pull tops such as vegetables and fruit, protein in pouches or pull-top cans such as tuna, beef stew, chili, and canned chicken, peanut butter, granola and breakfast bars, toiletries, paper goods, diapers, and cleaning supplies such as mops, mop buckets, brooms, bleach wipes, bleach, garbage bags, and bug spray. Click here to learn more about how you can help.
The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has been accepting blood donations, and sent out 350 units of blood on Tuesday. Appointments are booked through September 5, but the Center anticipates blood will be needed into next month. If you are able to donate whole blood, platelets, and/or dual red blood cells, you can donate blood in San Antonio, New Braunfels, or Victoria, or find a blood drive near you.
In preparation of Hurricane Harvey, the Animal Defense League of Texas, along with many other animal shelters in the area, found foster homes for pets to make space in their shelters. If you’re in the San Antonio area, you can assist these efforts by donating towels, flat sheets, unscented baby wipes, and pop-up kennels. You can drop these off at 11300 Nacogdoches Road in San Antonio between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you’re not in the area, you can help by purchasing items from this Amazon wish list or by making a financial donation.
The Montrose Center, an LGBTQ counseling and community center in Houston, has set up an LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund to help those affected by the hurricane. The Relief fund will help those who seek counseling, case management, food, furniture, housing, and more. In addition to helping those displaced by the storm, the Center’s case management team will assist seniors, homeless youth, individuals living with HIV, and hate crime survivors. The Center currently supports a community of 35,000 people, and the Disaster Relief Fund will also provide assistance for anyone in need, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. If you are interested in volunteering with The Montrose Center, click here to learn more.
The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is continuing to respond to calls about animals in need. If you know of a local animal emergency, you can call the Animal Rescue Disaster Hotline at (713) 861-3010. If you would like to help out the Houston SPCA by opening your home to foster an animal, volunteer your time, or offer transportation, email email@example.com with your contact information and information about the resources you have available. If you would like to donate, you can purchase or donate items from this Wish List or make a financial donation here.
At the time of this writing, the United Way of Greater Houston is not accepting clothing or goods donations. However, they are accepting financial donations for the United Way Relief Fund. The United Way is working with local volunteer organizations such as Volunteer Houston, as well as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, and the funds and donations will also be used to assist those organizations.
Based in Los Angeles, Operation USA will be shipping five 53′ truckloads of relief supplies to the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, Texas. This includes portable generators, shelter kits, personal hygiene items, sanitation cleanup kits, exam gloves, masks, first aid kits, blankets and pillows, air purifiers, flashlights and power kits. These will be to partners in the flooded areas, which are local non-profit clinics and food banks that are experiencing water damage or are overwhelmed by the number of volunteers showing up to help. You can give monetary donations here, call 1-800-678-7255, or text AID to 50555 to donate $10. If you have United Airline miles saved up, you can also donate those through the United Airlines Charity Miles program.
The American Red Cross is currently seeking volunteers. In order to volunteer, you must be over the age of 18, be available to work a minimum of ten days (at about ten hours a day), and pass a background check. While volunteers are in place and helping now, the American Red Cross is expecting that volunteers will be needed in the future as well. You can learn more and fill out a volunteer form here. If you would like to donate money, there is also a donation form specifically for Hurricane Harvey.
By Stephanie Ervin for PeterGreenberg.com. Keefe Liu also contributed to this story.