Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas communities along the Gulf Coast. Much of the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston, remains underwater. And the rains keep coming down.
Donations and volunteers have responded to the disaster from across the nation; however, emergency responders urge the well-meaning public to make sure the welcome generosity does not complicate recovery efforts.
The following press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security provides offers some tips and resources for those wishing to help.
How to Help Disaster Survivors in Texas
WASHINGTON – The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a disaster. It is individuals, nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and governmental agencies working together that will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Tropical Storm Harvey.
Please follow a few important guidelines below to ensure your support can be the most helpful for Tropical Storm Harvey disaster survivors.
To Donate to Relief Efforts
The most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations.
Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.
Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Donate through a trusted organization. At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. Individuals, corporations, and volunteers can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website.
In addition to the national members, The Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD) has a list of vetted disaster relief organizations providing services to survivors. Texas VOAD represents more than three dozen faith-based, community, nonprofit, and non-governmental organizations.
To Personally Volunteer in the Disaster Areas
The State of Texas is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders.
The National VOAD has also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear, and valid identification.
At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.
Most importantly, please be patient. Although the need is great, and desire to help strong, it is important to avoid donating material goods or self-deploying to help until communities are safe and public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are.
Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery lasts much longer than today. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.
Tropical Storm Harvey is still dangerous, with the potential to impact additional areas of Texas and Louisiana. As the situation changes, needs may also change in these areas. Continue monitoring traditional and social media channels to learn more.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA online at fema.gov/blog, twitter.com/fema, twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema, and youtube.com/fema.