It's time to do something. Even if you weren't one of the Houstonians rescued by Meyerland teenagers in their boat, you might have seen JJ Watt make an emotional call for donations and solidarity that has raised almost half a million dollars since yesterday. You may have read writer Jia Tolentino's succinct summary of Harvey's devastation, and how Houstonians—fiercely individualistic as we are—will rise to the challenge of recovery, just as we did a decade ago for Katrina.
But the first step in recovery is figuring out what to do. Read on for a collected list of resources to help others (and yourself) in the days, weeks and months ahead.
First Things First: Don't Get Scammed
Despite the countless heroes of Harvey, disaster inevitably leads to a few bad apples trying to make a quick buck. If you decide to make a monetary donation, ProPublica has a handy list of tips on how to make your donation go farthest (Vox.com also has great guide). The big takeaways are to try to donate to local charities with deep community ties, and to always do your homework on the charity before breaking out your checkbook.
When it comes to rebuilding, the Consumerist has compiled a list of ways to avoid scams from contractors, charities, and rental properties. Try to get a recommendation from a friend, always ask for licensing information, and avoid paying in cash or with large upfront payments. It's also important to remain patient; there are only so many contractors and construction workers to go around, and it's best to wait and get it done right.
What to Do When Your House Is Underwater
If you're one of the many whose homes were impacted by the historic flooding, we recommend this Reddit thread from a Baton Rouge transplant on what to do after a flood. TL;DR — Gather important documents, get a FEMA number, and start thinking about demolition.
Shelters to Head to (or Send Donations)
While the George R. Brown Convention Center is expected to house as many as 5,000 displaced Houstonians, a network of shelters has popped up across the Greater Houston area. Check out this map for a list of shelters to head to. These shelters also welcome donations of clothing, baby formula, diapers, and other necessary supplies. Pets are also welcome at some shelters.
Our friends over at Houston Press compiled a list of local and regional food banks mobilizing to meet the needs of Harvey victims. To access food bank resources, call 2-1-1 or a food bank directly to learn more about distribution. If you are interested in donating your (wo)manpower, call any of the food banks listed.
Per the Houston Chronicle, the American Red Cross is accepting donations, alongside Carter BloodCare and South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. It's important to know the Red Cross accepts blood donations nationwide to serve Harvey victims—ask friends and relatives to consider donating, regardless of proximity.
Donate to Help Our Furry Friends
To aid with the countless dogs, cats, and other pets displaced by the storm, the Houston Humane Society, SPCA of Texas and San Antonio Humane Society are all working to provide relief. It's worth noting the Houston Humane Society receives no city funding, so donations truly matter. The Animal Defense League of Texas is actively seeking foster homes for displaced pets.
Offer/Receive Free Airbnb Accommodation
Airbnb is facilitating free housing for those in need of shelter. If you need shelter, or are willing to offer space in your home, find more information here.
Donate to These Charities/Funds:
- American Red Cross — text REDCROSS to 90999 to contribute $10 to disaster relief.
- Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (via Greater Houston Community Foundation) — Broad-based relief fund established by Mayor Sylvester Turner.
- GoFundMe — A collected page of individual crowdfunding campaigns for Harvey victims.
- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief — To provide hot meals and home restoration for up to 60,000 displaced Texans.
- A more exhaustive list of highly-rated organizations can be found here via Charity Navigator.
- We also collected a list of Houston-based charities here.
Get the Word Out, and Lend a Hand
If you or your personal network are able to help in any way, share those opportunities by word of mouth, via social media, and general good vibes. Offer your time. If you have a chainsaw or a boat, lend a hand to your neighbors. Above all: Stay safe.