The flood waters in Texas are finally receding and the full scope of the devastation and damage Harvey has caused is just now becoming fully apparent. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas says that the recovery costs of Harvey could reach well over 100 billion dollars. Homes and lives destroyed and forever changed, families are left without homes, schools and the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and drinking water. US citizens have flocked to Texas, boats in tow to help do something, anything to aid our brothers and sisters from the Lone Star State. A lot of us want to help but are unable to drop everything and go to Houston.
The Nation has seen an outpouring of love for the families in the Houston, Texas area that were and are still seeing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. I myself spent 15 of the greatest years of my life in Texas, and I can testify to the fact that Texas does come together to help their fellow man. Unfortunately some people all over the world see natural disasters as opportunities and their victims as marks, a chance to scam and profit from the weak and desperate. A dear friend that lives in the Houston area told me via a phone conversation that he had personally been getting automated phone calls from somewhere and someone claiming to be his insurance provider, and for $500 dollars he could upgrade his insurance plan to cover all damage caused by Harvey. A college educated man, he hung up but I wonder about the less fortunate and elderly that may fall victim to such a scam.
Below I have out together a list of trustworthy organizations that you can make your donations of your time or money if you feel the need to do so.
Local Houston Organizations:
- The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.
- The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit its website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.
- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston: The Houston area clubs are opening their doors this week at no charge and offering extended hours to all the kids and families. They could use your donation: CLICK HERE to Donate.
- The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center has posted an up to date list of donation centers. Call 210-732-5590 for more information.
- To help animals, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society. The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has set up an animal emergency response hotline (713-861-3010) and is accepting donations on its website.
- The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or you can MAIL in your donation to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Tex., 78238.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.
- The American Red Cross is accepting donations. You can also text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.
- AmeriCares takes medicine and supplies to survivors.
- All Hands Volunteers will be working on damaged homes and removing debris.
- The American Kidney Fund is providing emergency financial grants to dialysis patients.
- Direct Relief is shipping medicine and medical supplies to Texas, and has made its medical inventory of more than $100 million available for the Harvey relief effort.
- Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or texting STORM to 51555.
- Save the Children is delivering baby supplies, including cribs and strollers, and setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters.
- Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations: AABB, America’s Blood Centers, American Red Cross and Armed Services Blood Program.
- GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns, including one started by the country singer Chris Young, who donated $100,000, and another created by the president and chief executive of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
- GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping to “meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.”
- YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $20 million. By Monday afternoon it had raised more than $19 million.
Research is the key to avoiding scams. Charity Navigator identifies worthy charities. Their website has a very good research tool and is a good place to start. The Internal Revenue Service has search tools that reveal whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
If you suspect an organization or individual is engaging in fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.