Southeast Texas is reeling. Coastal towns like Rockport have been devastated by extreme winds. Houston has been hit by trillions of gallons of rain. Rivers, streams, creeks, and bayous have risen at alarming rates. Officials have issued mandatory evacuation orders over concerns of levees overtopping or breaking.
The storm has affected nearly 7 million people in 18 counties. Ten people are dead and thousands are displaced (and assessing the true extent of the impact has not even begun). The area’s most vulnerable residents have felt a magnified impact. For example, Houston’s homeless population often take refuge in low-lying spaces (e.g. under freeways and bridges) that are most dangerous during flooding. It should go without saying that local nonhuman animals are also affected.
You might have wondered what you can do to help. If you live in Texas or near the Gulf area there are volunteer opportunities on the ground and ways to help those who have been displaced (e.g. using your boat to assist local rescue efforts or offering a place to stay for free via AirBnB).
If you do not live in the area or are unable to volunteer, supporting organizations and people who are on the ground is another option. Most charities prefer cash to physical material donations—they don’t require transportation costs, shipping delays, or time managing goods.
Here’s a list of five organizations to consider giving to (by no measure is this a comprehensive guide– check out some other sites for more ideas):
- Well-established and well-known, some consider the Red Cross the go-to disaster relief crew. They already have thousands of volunteers on the ground and are providing shelters for people displaced by the storm. Donate using the above link or if you’re able and willing—volunteer.
- Depending solely on donations, Houston Humane Society is working to care for and shelter displaced pets in the area.
Direct Relief (select “Hurricane Harvey” from the drop down menu)
- Founded in 1948, Direct Relief has an extensive history of providing humanitarian aid across the United States and beyond. Its stated mission is to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies.
- The SPCA of Texas is hard at work utilizing their staff and volunteers to support care for pets of evacuees. Another option is to give to the Houston SPCA. Throughout the storm the dedicated staff at Houston SPCA has helped 100s of animals. A donation of just $25 helps feed more than 1000 animals each day.
- Natural disasters have amplified impacts for vulnerable populations. The Coalition for the Homeless has been providing additional outreach and working with the city to coordinate shelters for homeless individuals affected by the storm. Additionally, it is estimated that the tens of thousands of people will be forced into temporary shelters because of the storm.