Hurricane Harvey and his older brother Andrew
There are times in our lives Mother Nature comes knocking on our door, and whether you answer or not, she’s coming in. Hurricane Harvey did just that to the Texas Gulf Coast. On August 24, 1992 it was my door along with millions of others in South Florida. I was the on duty flight medic with Coast Guard Air Station Miami that night and next day. Not wanting to be separated from my family, my wife and I made the decision to bring them down with me. The building was safer and if I had to leave, I knew they’d be taken care of. I still remember hearing the wind whipping around the building. My daughter definitely does, because she’s still not a fan of thunder and loud trains, 25 years later.
I’ve experienced the enormity and strength of hurricanes, having been in smaller ones also, luckily I don’t remember the names of. They’re not to be played with, as anything in nature really should not be. In response to many articles, newscasts, live streams, and stories, I’ve compiled a quick list of both national and local organizations in the Houston area that are accepting donations. Most websites provide a list of items they could use immediately. Cash is your number one option at this point, but please be aware of wiring cash to the “We gonna help all the people of Harvey in Houston” (made-up name) scammers. See my note from the Federal Trade Commission below!
Using research attributed to Charity Navigator is how I’ve comprised the list. I do not endorse ANY of the sites listed below, but I’d like to think I’ve made it a little easier for you to decide how you want to donate. There are also many links for animal relief organizations. People, animal or both it’s your preference, but take it from someone that’s been there. The pictures we see do not show the enormity of loss and damage any justice. You would have to live it, and my friend, you really don’t want to.
You must use their drop down box to specify how you want your donation used.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational, Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to people affected by disaster and poverty around the world. It focuses on helping victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.
Local (to Texas) Organizations
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Set up by Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, which is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, TX., 78238.
The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit their website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.
The L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund will be used to help people “rebuild their lives through counseling, case management, direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing and more.” It is managed by The Montrose Center, Houston’s longtime community center for the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population.
For more options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas. Federal Trade Commission has advised to never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity. Scammers often request donations to be wired because wiring money is like sending cash: once you send it, you can’t get it back, the site said. And never “provide your credit or check card number, bank account number or any personal information until you’ve thoroughly researched the charity.
Animal Relief Organizations
If you are an animal welfare professional and want to volunteer your skills to relief efforts you can submit this online form. Volunteer information will be shared directly with Houston SPCA and SPCA of Texas.
Austin Pets Alive is seeking families to foster cats and large dogs. In addition to cash donations, the organization can also use in-kind donations like large plastic or metal bins with lids. Safe from the harm of hurricane weather, this facility has transported over 330 animals already and expects to take in hundreds more over the next few days. With a stock of animals already waiting to be adopted (these are not orphans from the storm), this is a great place to find your next best friend or volunteer to foster some of the more vulnerable animals (preferably in homes with no other pets). Space for some items is limited so check with the organization first before you gather supplies.
The Animal Defense League of Texas is providing shelter and care for displaced pets and are desperately seeking fosters, supplies, and financial assistance in their efforts.
Wings of Rescue and their Home page here. This amazing, unique animal rescue has chartered several flights already to evacuate homeless animals from the San Antonio area to make room for the influx of lost and surrendered pets to come.
As I mentioned above, PLEASE do your own research on any organization you choose, and for the lawyer’s out there, I do NOT endorse ANY of these organizations. This blog post is for informational purposes only.
Do what you can, however you can. If you can’t make it down there, or you’re unable to send a donation or supplies, how about helping your neighbor? Give someone a ride to town, visit with the elderly in your town, be nice, forgive and always remember everyone around you is fighting their own battle, be especially kind.
Till we are able to chat again, take care of yourself.
PS. Happy birthday Erica!! Love you!
Photo Credit: David J. Phillip/AP http://abcnews.go.com/US/hurricane-harvey-wreaks-historic-devastation-numbers/story?id=49529063