What you can do to help people hit by Hurricane Harvey

You can lend a hand.
You can lend a hand.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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This item has been updated.

Since it made landfall in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the night of Friday Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey has calmed from a category 4 hurricane, but as of Monday morning it was still a tropical storm and expected to linger over the Texas and, later, Louisiana coast for some days. The Houston region is currently dealing with the worst flooding in recorded history: At least six have died, and thousands had to evacuate their homes.

It will take time even after the floods have subsided to assess the damage. In the mean time, some 30,000 people (paywall) may be forced to spend time living in shelters and in need of basic supplies. Here are some of the ways to help, and which organizations are coordinating relief efforts.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is deploying 42 mobile kitchens, each of which can make 1,500 meals a day, from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Texas. The organization will have teams in the main towns hit by Harvey, and provide cleanup kits and shelter supplies on top of food.

The organization says it prefers monetary donations to food or other goods, as it can use the money to provide exactly what’s needed. It’s taking donatiomns through the website, as well as by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. It accepts checks, too—”Hurricane Harvey” should be written on them:

The Salvation Army
PO BOX 1959
Atlanta, GA 30301  

Red Cross

The Red Cross is hosting at least 1,800 people in its shelters in Texas. It has supplies to support 28,000 people in shelters and is sending supplies for another 22,000. Ahead of the storm, the organization also stocked up on blood for transfusions.

Though many high-profile personalities (from Barack Obama to Beyoncé) have been suggesting donating to the Red Cross, ongoing investigation from ProPublica and NPR have highlighted that the organization has not been transparent about its use of funds, and what percentage of the donations end up in actual relief efforts.

To help, you can donate to the Red Cross online. Additionally, people in the US can call 1-800-RED CROSS, or simply text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

United Way

Houston’s chapter of community support organization United Way has set up a Harvey recovery fund. You can donate online and choose to send the money to specific counties or let the organization decide. It’s also coordinating cleanup efforts after the floods: Those in need can call 1-800-451-1954 or 1-844-965-1386.

Food banks

The fastest way to help people in need is to donate to local food banks. The Houston Food Bank is at 1-832-369-9390; its website also offers instructions to people willing to donate food and organize food drives, and takes monetary donations of as little as $1. Houston Press has made a list of all the other food banks in the area, while Feeding Texas has information on all food banks in the state and other ways to donate.

Texas Diaper Bank

Diapers aren’t often donated in relief efforts, and displaced families with small children will need a lot of them. The Texas Diaper Bank accepts cash donations as well as diapers dropped off at their location in San Antonio:

5415 Bandera Road
Suite 504
San Antonio, TX 78238

Help for children with complex medical needs

Those who have extra pediatric medical supplies such as tracheostomy and ventilator supplies, feeding tubes, nebulizers, air purifiers, or specialty baby formula can contact the Washington, DC organization Little Lobbyists, or Trach Mommas of Louisiana in Baton Rouge for directions on where to drop the supplies. Donations of money can be made via PayPal, and checks (payable to “Trach Mommas of Louisiana”) should be sent to:

Trach Mommas of Louisiana
11850 Wentling Ave #A8
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

People with disabilities

Portlight offers specific help to people with disabilities. It has experience in disaster preparedness and relief, and has helped disabled people in Louisiana through several storms. If you or someone you know needs help, Portlight is at 1-800-626-4959, and there’s also information on the organization’s website. It also accepts PayPal donations.

Crowdsourced donations

Global Giving, a crowdfunding platform for humanitarian and charity causes, has set up the Hurricane Harvey initiative, and has set a goal of $2,000,000 for food and other primary necessities to people hit by the hurricane and floods. The fund will work by directly financing local organizations vetted by Global Giving. Once initial necessities are covered, any remaining money will be given to help with reconstruction. Suggested donations are $15 or up, though any amount is allowed. Contributions should be made online.

And if you want to volunteer

Organized help is the most effective in a disaster. Independent volunteer efforts, while certainly well-meaning, can end up slowing down operations. So if you are in the storm-hit areas and want to lend a hand, register through the disaster portal of Volunteer Houston or All Hands Volunteers, which are coordinating help.