Victims of Hurricane Harvey – whether in Houston, Port Arthur (whose status might be gravest of all), Corpus Christi, or Rockport – need your help.
But it needs to be help that is informed. While shipping off blankets may be well intentioned, too many supplies at once can disrupt supply lines.
For example, cash works best for victims and organizations. In places without electricity, credit cards aren’t worth as much as usual with local banks closing down. In addition, charities often buy in bulk at discounts, helping them better allocate supplies to those that need it.
However, there are a lot of different ways for us to help victims, as well as for victims to find help.
Harvey SOS GoogleDoc
Click here to fill out an SOS doc if you are a victim yourself, or know someone that still needs help.
The toughest part about a major disaster like a Hurricane is that everyone needs help at the exact same time. Busy phonelines can take hours to get through, and it hurts battery life in situations where every minute counts. This google doc is a convenient potential silver bullet. You can fill out the necessary information (a Twitter handle is surprisingly helpful for reasons that will be explained next), including special considerations (such as age or medical needs), and that information will go towards rescue help.
Yes, Twitter is Incredibly Helpful
PLS RETWEET I NEED TO KNOW HE IS OKAY ? pic.twitter.com/RBWntZoIGo
— Dayanelli (@Dayanelli_) August 30, 2017
Twitter has been critical to rescue efforts. Not only are cities themselves (such as Port Arthur) asking for help on Twitter, but police departments and County Sheriffs are actively monitoring social media for help. None other than author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling, was integral to the rescue of a mother and her baby.
Celebrities, businesses, and politicians are more active on Twitter. Because there’s no limit to the amount of contacts you have, an SOS on Twitter has the ability to see more eyes. This DOES NOT mean that Twitter should be your first and only method of finding help, or helping others. Only that it’s surprisingly useful. However, be mindful of false data. Check the date on the pictures/tweets, and make sure to look at the person’s Twitter feed. People usually update them, so this can cut down on the noise surrounding people already safe.
A lady in tears tells Mattress Mack she spent her 84th bday in his store. She lost everything. His response is ❤️❤️pic.twitter.com/BefwU8YOVS
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) August 31, 2017
Images that restore your faith in humanity are always a plus. This video of Jim McInvale, owner of Mattress Mack, is a welcome sight in a literal sea of misery. Not every place is offering shelter, but be wary of those that are.
Know Safety Concerns
Entire neighborhoods have become contaminated and potentially toxic rivers are a result of Harvey: https://t.co/YOCLKKQdG6
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) August 31, 2017
When it comes to help – either as a victim or a helper – be aware of supplies that are more critical than you might assume. Because of contamination involving sewage and chemicals, the Texas Department of State Health Services has recommended that people avoid tap water. The contamination of water supplies means there will be an uptick in Salmonella, and E. coli. Rubble and debris from demolished buildings could mean a higher presence of rusty nails, which means a stronger attention to detail should you be injured. With the increase in Mosquitos, keep bug spray handy. This is especially crucial in places like Beaumont, which has completely lost its water supply.
— Karen Warren (@karenwarrenHC) August 31, 2017
For a lot of people, feeling comfortable is only as good as the family you’re surrounded by. And for a lot of families, that includes their pets. The SPCA is helping with displaced animals, as are many other organizations: Austin Pets Alive Animal Defense League, and the Houston Humane Society.
Protecting Your Home
— Credit Repairmen (@CRepairmen) August 31, 2017
If you are an evacuee, and are worried about the logistics of mortgage payments, there are resources. Safety is the most important thing right now, but many will soon have to confront the process of rebuilding. Houston lawyers are working pro bono to make sure evacuees are aware of general legal aid. Seek them out if you’re worried about financing. If you want to know more about filing for property damage, especially with new legislation recently passed, click here.
Tell Your Story
Your voice is important in times of crisis. Who better to tell stories than the witnesses themselves? It may seem a little silly for some people, but documenting your experiences can be important, especially for future victims, in terms of what to expect and what to reflect on. For victims of Hurricane Harvey, there is actually a place for you to do this. You can email the New York Times to tell your story. NPR has a similar service for those who feel like their stories are important enough to share. You can also tweet at the Texas Tribune to talk about your experiences in Crosby near the chemical plant that recently exploded.
For a comprehensive list of places you can donate to, or help, please click here.