We’re headed into Week 3 of Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts. Some areas around Houston and Beaumont, Texas are still underwater, due to continued release of water from flood control dams. Thousands are still in temporary shelters, starting the clean-up process.
If you want to help these folks get back to normal, here are some things to remember:
- The best thing to give is money. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritans Purse, Catholic Charities and the United Way of Houston are all bona fide charities providing aid in the area. Here’s a list of charities from the Better Business Bureau.
- Don’t organize used clothing, appliances and furniture drives. Recovery and relief organizations don’t have the time or space to organize “stuff”, clean it, make sure it works and give it away. During Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, thousands of tons of used clothing and donations ended up in landfills because there wasn’t any to organize, clean, sort and distribute it. That’s the same for what’s happening now in Texas and Louisiana.
- Don’t just get up and go to Texas to “help”. You’ll need a place to stay, food to eat and other necessities. Unless you have a place to go that can sustain you, see #1. Many volunteers that provided important assistance are being sent home – in some cases due to the current track of Hurricane Irma.
If you’re going to put some sort of donation drive together – AND YOU HAVE A PLACE THAT’S AGREED TO TAKE YOUR DONATIONS – here’s a list of what relief agencies need the most:
- Bottled water
- Canned food and packaged food that doesn’t require cooking. Nothing perishable.
- Diapers (all sizes)
- Baby formula
- School supplies – elementary through high school
- Cleaning supplies – bleach, cleaners, buckets, dish soap, mops, rags, scrubbing sponges
- Toiletries – Combs, brushes, female hygiene items, shampoo, shaving creme, toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Household items – Bath towels, kitchen towels, paper towels
- Undergarments for children and adults
- Pet food
- Gift cards to local grocery stores and gas stations
The best thing to do is to make sure you and your family are prepared for disasters and emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month. Remember that disasters don’t plan ahead. You can. There’s lots of information about emergency and disaster preparedness at BeReadyLexington.com.