$180 billion in damage later, residents still need long-term Harvey relief help

VICE Impact, September 14, 2017                                                           

In the first few days after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston late last month, a lot of people wanted to reach out for support. Some said not to donate to the American Red Cross, which sent thousands of workers, vehicles and resources to the region and provided immediate opportunities for people to help out. The backlash to the Red Cross has been simmering for a long time. But while natural disasters on the scale of Harvey make drawing attention to its failings seem more urgent it's easy to see how an organization on that scale, with its huge resources and the ability to immediately mobilize, was the first supportive instinct for many. Still, when you donate to a relief organization that huge, chances are some of your money isn't going directly to the scene of the crisis that compelled you to donate.

In the aftermath of Harvey, it's difficult to get a comprehensive assessment of exactly what organizations are doing on the ground there. Now that the storm has settled, and the long term recovery is ahead, here are some of the organizations doing the long term work -- all of them need your support.

General

The Houston Food Bank and the Galveston County Food Bank are a good place to start. There's also the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Houston mayor Sylvester Turner; you can support this one by just texting HARVEY2017 to 91999.

While you have your phone handy, you can also call the Harris County Donation Hotline at 1-800-924-5985. You can also donate to the Houston Furniture Bank; if you're local, you can coordinate donations of mattresses and other furniture by calling 713-842-9771.

United Way of Greater Houston has launched a relief fund, too. And if you happen to represent a corporation looking to donate, you should reach out to Mayor Turner's Director of Government Affairs, Bill Kelly, at .

Vulnerable communities

Houston Children's Charity is currently providing displaced kids with beds. You can donate to the Texas Diaper Bank, the Driscoll Children's Hospital, and the LGBTQ Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief fund as well Portlight Strategies is trying to meet theneeds of the disabled. Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County is trying to keep shelters accessible to displaced homeless Texans here.

Houston Undocumented Communities Flood Relief Fund helps the over 575,000+ undocumented immigrant families living in Houston and the surrounding suburbs. Many don't qualify for government aid, so literally any help is the only help. 

The American Kidney Foundation has set up a relief fund for dialysis patients. Texas Council on Family Violence is also taking donations for displaced victims of domestic violence, and Whole Woman's Health is trying to coordinate abortions for women who need them but are caught up in both Harvey and state anti-abortion legislation.

Schools

You can donate directly to the Houston Independent School District, and KIPP Houston Public Schools has started a relief fund. You can also support DonorsChoose.org, which is helping replenish school supplies.

Animals

Barc Animal Shelter is accepting donations specifically for its Harvey relief work. So are the SPCA of Texas and the Houston Humane Society. And Austin Pets Alive! needs donations, too.

Religious organizations

If you're comfortable mixing faith into your contributions, you should always look to local houses of worship providing shelter.

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston is doing an incredible job coordinating the conversion mosques into shelters; they've also partnered with the non-profit Baitumaal to funnel emergency supplies where they need to go.

Meanwhile, Interfaith Ministries provides Meals on Wheels for displaced seniors (and their pets) in addition to other necessities like wheelchairs and walkers. Holy Family Catholic Church is also coordinating donations, including blood. (Speaking of which, if you'd like to donate blood to Harvey victims -- whether for religious reasons or not -- you can look up the logistics.)

You can donate to homeless shelter Star of Hope. Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church is requesting donations at 281-232-5113, and Westbury Baptist Church is accepting donations and supplies.

Find out how to help the Jewish Community Center's Harvey relief fund. You can also support the relief funds of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and Jewish Family Service of Houston.

And then some
GlobalGiving has established its own Harvey relief fund. Yes, this organization is a bit bigger, but 100 percent of the proceeds go to on-site emergency relief, after which they'll use the remaining funds to aid long-term recovery. Also dedicated to long-term support is the Houston Community charity BakerRipley. And Avenue CDC will focus on affordable housing.

Remember that you can usually check up on how exactly your organization of choice spends its revenue. Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, GiveWell, and Disaster Accountability Project are all trustworthy resources.

Despite the impression you might get from reports of looting or people stabbing each other in grocery aisles over the last bit of available food, research shows that crises actually bring out the best in us -- not the worst.

Let's help these organizations in being a part of that.

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