We’ve all seen the footage and heard the stories. Elderly people waist deep in water in a nursing home. A semi truck driver rescued because a reporter flagged down rescuers. The Houston Temple surrounded by water. The flooding in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey is distressing for those near and far.
But if there’s one silver lining to this disaster, it’s how inspiring the human spirit can be. It’s amazing to watch everyday citizens, from teenagers to the “Cajun Navy,” all jump in their boats and rescue those who are stranded—no questions asked.
If you’re not a member of the Cajun Navy, you’re probably wondering how you can help. The great news? Even if you live far and have little time or money, there are ways to relieve the situation in Houston.
The Texas Diaper Bank is also in need of diapers. This is an often overlooked need during times of crisis. Donate on their website, or send diapers to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, TX 78238 (Amazon Prime, anyone?).
SPCA of Texas has set up an Amazon registry of needed supplies as they take on more pets displaced by the flooding. You can see on the registry which items were recently added and are needed during the Hurricane relief.
Give your time
If you’re available to help out on the ground in Houston, apply with the organization All Hands Volunteers to get involved in the cleanup effort. This is a very reputable charity that is known for helping clean up long after the news stops covering natural disasters. Volunteers are given simple meals and accommodations and just need to travel to Houston and get started serving others. You can also volunteer through the NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), which organizes volunteer efforts for several charities.
Help out locally
If you live in the Houston area, consider donating blood. According to the Houston Chronicle, Carter BloodCare and South Texas Blood and Tissue Center are accepting donations. Beyond blood donations, the organization Volunteer Houston also set up a virtual portal where Texans can find volunteer opportunities to help at shelters and other locations in need.
Another option if you live in San Antonio, Austin, or Dallas is to host displaced persons. Airbnb is waiving service fees for those looking for somewhere to stay. Just hit the button I can offer my space for free to get started on listing your extra bedroom. Side note: it’s super inspiring to look at dozens of amazing listings with $0 price tags.
If gathering and mailing supplies sounds too time consuming, there are several reputable charities where your money will go far. Most charities say this is the way to make the biggest difference.
First, the LDS Church Humanitarian Aid fund is an excellent place to start. The minimum donation is only $1, and you can pay with Paypal, credit card, or e-check. Before Hurricane Harvey even made it to Texas shorelines, the LDS church was sending water, hygiene, and cleanup kits to a regional bishop’s storehouses in Houston. It’s always heartwarming to see the church’s generosity even before natural disasters strike.
The Houston Foodbank is also in need of cash or donations. For every $1 donated, 3 meals are served to those in need. If you’re passionate about health, Americares is helping out onsite by providing free clinics and health centers, in addition to supporting first responders.
At the end of the day, there’s also something to be said for the old cliché “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” We may get tired of hearing this phrase on repeat, but it’s actually an incredibly powerful thing. When thousands of individuals are praying for one specific thing, it can make a massive difference.
Turning our thoughts towards those in Houston is also important. That may mean anything from reaching out to old friends who live in the Houston area, expressing gratitude for our own safety, finding local volunteer opportunities, or creating an emergency preparedness plan for our own homes. Even sharing our thoughts on social media can have an impact. There are plenty of ways to make a difference with the catastrophe in Houston, even if you aren’t part of the Cajun Navy.