Hurricane Harvey, the strongest hurricane to hit Texas since 1961, swept through southeast Texas for the sixth straight day causing massive flooding, major property damage, and at least 38 deaths with the death toll expected to rise. Airports were closed, hospitals evacuated, and thousands of residents trapped in flooding homes. The affected area stretches along the state’s Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Houston, and inland to Austin and San Antonio.
“This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service tweeted Sunday morning. Some areas have seen up to 50 inches of rain in just a matter of days — this is the amount of rain that Houston typically sees in an entire year. More than 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and 30,000 shelter beds were available. The governor said 210,000 people have registered with FEMA for assistance.
Poorer and disabled residents have been especially vulnerable. In Houston, poor communities of color often live in segregated neighborhoods with higher flood risks. There are 2,294 “colonias” in Texas — unincorporated, impoverished communities in rural areas near the U.S.-Mexico border — that were in the direct path of the storm. With homes built in dangerous flood zones, they also lack the infrastructure to withstand heavy storms.
While many South Texans evacuated north, economically disadvantaged residents were unable to do so. Many undocumented immigrants chose to stay behind because Border Patrol refused to suspend its checkpoints during the storm.
Seeing the devastating impact that Hurricane Harvey continues to have on South Texas can be overwhelming. At the moment, the best thing we can do to support victims of the hurricane is donate to organizations that are on the ground. Blood donors are needed for those who have been most impacted by the hurricane — especially those with O and O negative blood. Donating to local food banks, shelters, and other organizations giving support to those most in need is helpful, as well.
Here are organizations to keep in mind if you are able to donate:
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, set up by the mayor of Houston to help those affected by the floods.
Red Cross, accepting donations online or by texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also donate via iTunes.
Save The Children, which is directly supporting families with children impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Portlight, a local organization that directly works with disabled people who need disaster aide.
SPCA of Texas and Animal Defense League of Texas, both supporting animals and their owners who have also been victims of or displaced in the storm.
Texas Diaper Bank, providing diapers and other baby essentials for infants and families with small children. Diapers are not covered in many emergency shelters.
Local Food Banks, donate to the Galveston County Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, and the Houston Food Bank.
Airbnb is offering free housing to those in affected areas which are most in need of shelter. They're asking for donations for these homes on their platform.
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