The general reaction is clear: Imelda feels like it came out of nowhere. The storm's impact has been both devastating and uneven, with some parts of Houston absorbing the rain while areas to east report conditions "worse than Harvey." Here are some options to help and get help, adapted from our experience in 2017. We'll continue to update this post with additional charity options.
An option to deal with high-water rescues: Crowdsource Rescue
To be clear: 911 should always be your first choice, but emergency management officials across the region are struggling to keep up with the influx of calls. This crowdsourced service connects people who need immediate help with local volunteers who can render aid. It's a proven success, with more than 50,000 people rescued through the service during Harvey, Irma, and other flooding emergencies. Wellness checks are also available. At the very least, help spread the word.
What to Do If Your House Has Flooded
"Homes that did not flood in Harvey are flooding now," Jackson County Judge Jeff Branick told the Chron of the situation near Beaumont. We still 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.
What to Do If Your Car Has Flooded
At least 10,000 vehicles were damaged by Tropical Storm Imelda. Check out this rundown from the Chron—most of all, do not start your car.
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.
There Are Several Shelters Open Around the County
Current Shelter Locations in Harris County:— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) September 19, 2019
Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Parish, 26777 Glen Loch Dr
Sheldon Elementary School, 17203 Hall Shepperd Rd
St James Catholic Church, 22800 Aldine Westfield Rd
Humble First Assembly of God, located at 1915 FM 1960 Bypass#HouNews
Lakewood Church is open to anyone in need of assistance because of the flooding.— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) September 19, 2019
We are located at 3700 SW Freeway. Lakewood Church is open now. https://t.co/rf3wSC7vLc
Mattress Mack says people in need of shelter can go to Gallery Furniture on North Freeway— Ivory Hecker FOX 26 (@IvoryHecker) September 19, 2019
Don't Get Scammed When Donating
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.
Donate to These Charities/Funds:
- American Red Cross — text REDCROSS to 90999 to contribute $10 to disaster relief.
- Greater Houston Community Foundation Imelda Assistance Fund — locally-run effort that assists those who suffered damage to their homes during Imelda.
- Southeast Texas Food Bank — serving East Texas counties most affected by the storm.
- A more exhaustive list of highly-rated organizations can be found here via Charity Navigator.
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.