Hurricane Harvey isn’t finished wreaking havoc and causing untold amounts of destruction throughout portions of Texas, Louisiana and even Alabama.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Addicks Reservoir, which is located about 19 miles west of downtown Houston, breached its 108-foot spillway for first time in history, threatening nearby homes nearby and sending residents fleeing for their lives.
The west-of-downtown Houston reservoir also overtopped its spillway on Tuesday and sent an “uncontrolled release” of Harvey’s floodwaters into nearby neighborhoods. In a separate incident, a levee, located south of Houston, was breached. Residents have been warned to leave the area immediately.
The National Weather Service announced Hurricane Harvey has set a record for total rainfall from a tropical system in Texas. So far, 49.32 inches of rain have been recorded at a location southeast of Houston.
Other parts of Texas have already suffered the brunt of the storm after it made landfall near Corpus Christi on Friday night. Since then, the slow-moving hurricane which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm left behind flattened communities and historic flooding in Houston and other parts of Texas throughout the weekend. And it’s not done yet.
Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic impact has been felt in as many as 50 counties and forced more than 30,000 people from their homes, according to multiple news reports, prompting urgent calls for aid in every direction.
Ways to help right now:
The American Red Cross relies on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. They have already set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit redcross.org or call 1- 800-RED CROSS.
The United Way has also announced a way to text a donation: Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund
Cash donations are better than supplies:
Many Americans respond to disasters by collecting food, clothing and household items for people in need. Community and civic groups often collect thousands of pounds of material, which makes the givers feel good, but in reality, these donations require transportation — which can rack up costs and add a logistical nightmare to an already difficult situation.
For these reasons and more, charities prefer monetary donations, according to USAID, which explains that unsolicited household donations can actually cause problems for relief workers. They “clog supply chains, take space required to stage life-saving relief supplies for distribution, and divert relief workers’ time. Collections of household items serve no useful function in the acute phase of an emergency operation.” Managing piles of unsolicited items will likely add to the cost of relief work through forcing changes to logistical and distribution plans and creating more tasks for relief workers.
“Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods,” the organization wrote on its website, noting that financial contributions let professional relief organizations purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster survivors, when it is needed. Such donations also allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site. Some commodities, particularly food, can almost always be purchased locally – even after devastating emergencies and in famine situations.”
Shelters need volunteers:
The American Red Cross in Texas is asking people to volunteer. The office announced on Friday that it would be training volunteers at their shelters through a “fast=track” course. The Salvation Army also announced it would be accepting volunteers to hand out supplies and food at shelters. Check for a local group in your area that is sending volunteers.
Volunteer Houston has launched a VIRTUAL Volunteer Reception Center to aid non-profits and agencies in finding and deploying people to hard-site areas.
Local help in Texas:
Grocery chain H-E-B plans to donate $100,000 toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. On Monday, all H-E-B, Central Market and Joe V’s Smart Shop stores across Texas launched a statewide tear pad campaign, giving customers an opportunity to support victims through donations of $1, $3, or $5, which can be added to their total grocery bill.
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up by Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in north, central and east Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.
The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Tex., 78238.
Choose your charity wisely:
Before you donate to a charity, make sure you know where your help is going to end up. The Center for International Disaster Information recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.
Ensure that your donation is secure by going through an organization’s official website or sending a check in the mail. Charity Navigator says you should never donate over the phone, email or unknown social media pages, as these are easier for scammers to target.
AABB, which coordinates a task force to manage blood collection efforts during disasters, put out a call on Sunday for blood donations in the aftermath of Harvey.
Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations:
America’s Blood Centers
American Red Cross: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
Armed Services Blood Program: 703-681-5979
Organizations which can be accessed on-line:
GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns.
Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1, and can guide users in creating a listing where their home is offered to victims free.
YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $1 million.
GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping with “immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.”