Hurricane Harvey first made landfall last Friday as a Category 4 storm, the first Category 4 in the U.S. since 2004. The Texas Coastal Bend — a region that hasn’t seen a Category 4 since 1961 with Carla — was doused with upwards of 36 inches of rain. More is on the way, however, and the region could see as much as 50 inches of rain before it’s all over.
Houston — the fourth largest city in the nation and home to 6 million people — has been the focus of much attention. At least two people have drowned, and more than 2,000 people have been rescued by swift water rescue teams. It was estimated on Monday that 11 trillion gallons of rainwater have inundated the area, a number that continues to rise.
Raymond Montoya lives in Angleton, Texas, a rural area southwest of Houston.
“Houston is nothing but concrete, so there’s nowhere for that water to go,” he lamented Monday. “It’s in really bad shape.”
“My heart continues to be heavy for the good people of South Texas as they begin to deal with the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey—and the flood waters are still rising in many areas,” said Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse president. “We hope that over the next few months there will be thousands of volunteers who will want to come and help those whose homes have been damaged by this destructive storm.”
With Matthew — which brought 15 inches of rain to eastern North Carolina — fresh in local minds, residents of Bladen County know all too well the effects of catastrophic flooding, and have reached out on social media to inquire about ways to help. Listed below are a few of the efforts that are taking place or are in the process of being coordinated.
— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recommended that those who want to help victims should donate to the American Red Cross, which he called a “tremendous asset.” Monetary donations can be send to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839. An online donation form will help route funds to the appropriate source. Those needing assistance with donations can call 1-800-HELP-NOW (800-435-7669).
Online donations are also accepted at redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey. The American National Red Cross is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to the American National Red Cross are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Red Cross’ tax ID number is 53-0196605.
— On Aug. 25, the North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission started to organize their “yellow shirt” relief efforts. Monetary donations are accepted online by visiting baptistsonmission.org/missions/by-type/disaster-relief/hurricane-harvey. Checks payable to N.C. Baptist Men can be mailed to P.O. Box 1107, Cary, N.C. 27512, with a memo designation of “Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief.” The organization is preparing to launch a ground effort when roads become accessible and is currently accepting volunteers.
— Samaritan’s Purse is accepting donations and applications for volunteer ground work and has teams standing by in Dallas awaiting safe entry. Opportunities are available for both day trips and overnight missions. Volunteers will tear out damaged drywall, remove flooring, tarp roofs, and clear debris. The minimum length of stay for overnight volunteers is three days; maximum team size is 15 people, and individuals are welcome as well. Volunteers must be 14 years or older. For additional information on volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, visit https://spvolunteernetwork.samaritanspurse.org/hurricane-harvey-reponse/
— The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is accepting relief kits and monetary donations. Information on what to include in the relief kits and on sending monetary donations can be found by visiting umcor.org/umcor/resources/news-stories/2017/august/0825umcorrespondstoharvey.
— Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is working with leadership in New Covenant, Mission, and South Louisiana Presbyteries and is planning to deploy response teams when it is safe to do so. For more information, visit pda.pcusa.org/situation/tropical-storm-harvey/
— Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is in urgent need of blood donations due to Hurricane Harvey. When disaster strikes, the national blood supply lines on which local banks rely when local donations don’t meet needs is disrupted. The center expects the local shortage to worsen in coming weeks and is asking area volunteers to donate blood and platelets. All blood types are needed, but especially Type O, because stocks were already low. One patient can deplete the center’s entire supply of that blood type.
The Blood Donor Center is open for donations Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Blood drives are also held throughout the region. For a list of upcoming drives, visit savingliveslocally.org. Donors receive a free t-shirt and a movie ticket, while supplies last. For more information, call (910) 615-5433 or visit www.savingliveslocally.org
— Blood donations can be made through the American Red Cross.
— Feeding Texas is a statewide network of food banks, and Houston Press has compiled a list of food banks serving the area hardest hit by Harvey. That list includes Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi and San Antonio Food Bank, among others.
— Curt Locklear at Southeastern Veterinary Hospital in Lumberton is taking donations for animals in Texas. Needs include blankets, food, bedding, kennels, crates, and all kinds of pet supplies. Monetary donations must be dropped off in person. For more information, visit the hospital’s Facebook page.
— Animal welfare organizations will be focused on rescuing, sheltering and rehoming pets. The Humane Society and the SPCA of Texas and their affiliated shelters will need money, supplies, food and foster volunteers.
On the ground
— Many religious organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse and Baptists on Mission, will be on the ground assisting Texas residents. In addition, the Salvation Army, Save the Children, and Heart to Heart all have volunteer opportunities on the ground.
— Caveat: The State of Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy, which would create an additional burden on first responders and could result in volunteers being turned away by law enforcement. FEMA suggests those wanting to help register with a charity and only come with proper safety equipment and valid identification.
Other relief efforts
— A list of individual crowdfunding campaigns related to the hurricane can be found at GoFundMe’s Hurricane Harvey Relief page. GlobalGiving, another crowdfunding site, is aiming to raise $2 million for a relief fund.
Guidelines for giving
FEMA issued the following guidelines for those wanting to aid Texans:
— The most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations.
— Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.
— Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.