With the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and the possible imminent destruction of Hurricane Irma, I have been completely heartbroken and so empathize with the people who have lost everything.
Being someone who has lost everything twice to a natural disaster, my first instinct was to drop everything and go to Houston to help. I want nothing more to GO, But because I have two young children in school and a family that needs me, it’s not something I can do at this time in my life. After thinking about ways I can help and people reaching out to me asking how they can help the people of Houston and the surrounding towns, I decided a way I could help was to write this post with ways you can do just that. So here we go…..
For the Victims…
If you are, or have friends and/or family who have suffered loss due to a natural disaster such as Hurricane Harvey, these are some of the things you should know.
Register for assistance
I cannot emphasize this enough. Before doing anything, victims need to register with Red Cross, FEMA and any other organization that is in the area to provide assistance. Doing this will open up all kinds of opportunities to receive assistance. Not only monetary assistance but also ways to get food, clothing, assistance for demo & clean-up. Please do not take this lightly. This is a very, very important first step.
Accept the help
Anyone who wants to help you, take it. You are likely already exhausted from weathering the storm and need to take care of yourself. If people are offering to help clean up, let them. If someone offers to buy you things, let them. If someone wants to bring you food, let them. If someone asks what they can do, do not be afraid to ask for what you need. DO NOT turn down help from others who want to help.
Take care of yourself and your health
This kind of goes along with the above but it is important to take care of your health. With the amount of debris and all the water that is just sitting, there is likely an overabundance of mold and airborne bacteria. Make sure you are wearing a mask even when the water is gone. Also, be sure to get sleep. I know you want to get the clean-up and rebuilding done but if you are not sleeping, you will get sick and this will delay your efforts to being to rebuild.
For those wanting to help victims…
If you are local to the area and have not suffered loss and want to physcially help those who have, these are some things you can do.
- Help with clean-up & demo (Make sure to wear a mask!)
- Offer to watch their kids so they can focus on clean-up, demo & rebuilding
- Buy them tubs for them to store anything that has not been damaged
- Take them meals – When you’re grieving and focusing on picking up your things, you don’t think about eating….it’s likely you totally forget to eat. Delivering a meal may seem like a small thing but really, it’s HUGE to the victims. Trust me on this.
- Offer them a place to stay
- If they’ve lost their vehicles, offer to run errands for them or take them to run errands
Most of these people didn’t have flood insurance so whether you are local or not, these are ways you can give in a big way.
- Donate to reputable organizations
- American Red Cross – The red cross was extremely helpful in directing us toward resources for additional assistance
- Local/Regional Food Banks (The Houston Food Bank) – The food bank was helpful to us in that we were able to go to pop-up locations set up specifically for victims. We were able to “shop” for groceries and toiletries long after the disaster and before we were able to receive financial assistance or insurance money.
- Samaritan’s Purse* – I cannot express enough how much this organization helped us. Volunteers saved us thousands of dollars by helping us clean up and demo our home. They show up with tools and materials to get done whatever needs to be done. Your monetary donations pay for those materials. Seriously, this group is amazing and some day, my husband and I hope to be able to volunteer for this organization.
- [Your State} Baptist Disaster Relief – (Texas or Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief) – I know for a fact that both of these have deployed volunteers to the Houston area. You can also google your state’s Baptist Disaster Relief to see if they are deploying volunteers and can donate if desired.
- If you have friends or family who are victims or know someone who knows victims, don’t send them your used clothing, toys, etc. Sending things is a nice thought and I’m sure they would be appreciated but send gift cards instead. These people have lost everything and having to sort through yet another box of things can just be overwhelming. So go ahead and send those used items to charities like GoodWill or Salvation Army and send gift cards. Here are some ideas of gift cards to send…
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
- Home Improvement Stores
- or just Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere
If I think of anything else, I will update this post. If you know of ways to help that are not listed above, please comment below or send me an email and I will add to this post.
If you have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, please know that you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.