I’m heartbroken by the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the catastrophic flooding and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected. I don’t just work as a Houston cosmetic surgeon, I’ve also set down roots here and call the area home, so I’ve seen the destruction firsthand. While the storm may be over, a staggering number of people have been displaced and have lost everything. It’s going to take months for Texas to recover from the damage and even longer for many people to rebuild their lives. The acts of heroism, Texans banding together to help one another and the response from around the country has been astounding and touching. Yet, there’s still so much more that needs to be done. If you’re wondering how to help after Harvey, I’ve compiled some ways you can get involved. This list is by no means exhaustive and a search of local or national organizations will turn up an endless array of opportunities but these might give you some ideas.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett created the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to accept tax-deductible donations to help victims of the flooding. The fund is overseen by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.
During the storm, the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center wasn’t able to collect blood donations and now the supply needs to be rebuilt. They’re currently keeping a list of where and when neighborhood blood drives are being held in the coming days. The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center also has a list of donor locations.
The Texas Diaper Bank is distributing diapers and wipes to shelters over the next several weeks. Afterwards, donations will continue to go towards post-recovery efforts for families who will be displaced long term. They accept any size baby diapers, pull-ups or adult diapers, though larger sizes are what they currently need most. They also accept wipes, formula and new or gently used baby items. The full list is available here. You can send donations to: The Texas Diaper Bank, 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Texas 78238. They also take monetary donations online and diapers and supplies purchased through their Amazon wish list.
The American Red Cross has been working nonstop along the Gulf Coast helping people affected by Harvey. Your donations can go a long way in allowing them to procure supplies and offer much needed services.
If you’d like to offer hands-on assistance and you live in the area, the American Red Cross needs volunteers in Texas and Louisiana to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. They have said they’ll be training volunteers at their shelters. You can fill out an application online and they will contact you. The Salvation Army is taking volunteer applications as well for a variety of disaster relief services. By signing up with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, you may be connected with a local organization in need of people to roll up their sleeves. Volunteer Houston is another great resource. They have a list of volunteer opportunities and you can apply to become a volunteer. All Hands Volunteers is a national organization that’s on the ground getting rid of debris and working on homes that have been damaged. You can donate or fill out a volunteer application.
The City of Houston Emergency Operations Center has a list of items that are needed ranging from medical supplies to bottled water as well as drop-off locations for those who live in the Houston metro area.
Americares is another amazing organization seeking financial donations. They’re in Texas mobilizing medical outreach and distributing water, aid and the basics. Contributions are being used for emergency medicine and supplies.
Open Your Home
If you have space in your house and are willing to take in disaster victims temporarily, a Facebook page has been started where you can connect with those in need of shelter. You can also register to become an Airbnb host through their Disaster Response service and offer up your home or a room in your home for free.
Humans weren’t the only ones affected by Harvey. Animals were also injured and displaced and pets were separated from their owners. The Houston Humane Society, the Houston SPCA and SPCA of Texas, the Animal Defense League of Texas, Austin Pets Alive and a slew of other organizations desperately need donations as well as people willing to foster animals until their owners can be located or new homes can be found for them.