Texas was hit with the largest rainfall this country has seen since records have been kept… 51 inches in some parts… that’s a lot of water, and a lot of damage was done. If you’re wanting to know how you can help Houston after Harvey, here’s what you need to know to help from wherever you are in the world.
I’m a 10th generation Texan, born and raised in Houston, and my hometown has been hit with the worst rainfall in one area ever recorded in such a short amount of time. It’s said that the amount of water that Houston received last week would be 128 feet deep if it was over New Orleans, and that it would be enough water to supply all the needs of New York City for 50 years…
That’s a lot of water y’all.
And Houston is feeling the effects of all that rain in a really major way. While some were lucky enough to escape the flood with their homes and belongings, as well as their families, completely unscathed, others were not so fortunate.
There are 42,000 people in shelters right now who left everything they owned and escaped with nothing but the clothes on their backs… and they were grateful to do so.
Like many around the country I’ve had my eyes glued to the news and social media to keep track of the damage, in addition to seeing all the damage first hand from my friends and family still in the area. During one recent news reel I saw a video of a man walking away from the helicopter basket that had just dropped him off after rescuing him from rising waters…
He was with his son and they had nothing left but the clothes they were wearing and one small backpack a piece.
When the news reporter stopped him to ask how he was fairing, he looked right into the camera and said, with a smile on his face “We thank God. We thank God. God is good!“.
I’m embedding the video so you can see it (skip to 2:30), but just the memory of the pure joy on his face as he thanked God for the sheer fact that he and his son survived brings tears to my eyes. So many people are suffering with a smile on their faces as they watch (and help) their neighbors lend a helping hand in every possible way to get them back on their feet.
In fact, in Houston there is a 3 hour wait outside one of the largest shelters in the city… Not for people to get in, but for people who are waiting in line TO VOLUNTEER!!
— Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) August 30, 2017
If that doesn’t swell your heart with pride for your fellow man, I’m not sure what will!
Right after I finished drying my eyes from that wonderful image I encountered a write-up that brought me to my knees for my state. Like I said earlier, I’m a 10th generation Texan… and even if you don’t live here, you know that we love our state.
If you’d like to read what it’s like to be a Texan from an “outsider” who married into a Texas family, read this post. My heart is so heavy with grief and pride that it feels like it might burst, but I know that like our state, I will be stronger for carrying just a little bit of the burden this storm brought…
Damage Done by Hurricane Harvey
Not wanting to just sit on the sidelines and itching to do something more than what I had already done, I decided to write a post for my blog to give people a few ideas on how they could help Houston in this time of need. I started by putting up a simple post on my personal Facebook page last night looking for a picture or two of the flood that I could use for this post. And the response I received was overwhelming and heartbreaking.
So many people stepped up with their personal photos and at the end of just 24 hours I had received over 100 images. These are first hand accounts of the situation in Houston right now and it was gut wrenching to look through them. To try and sort through the ones I was going to use, because while I’m not going to show every single one of those images, I do want to share at least 1 or 2 from each person that sent in photos.
Some of them didn’t want to be credited, and some were happy to let me mention their names. If a photo touches you, please visit the site of the owner and support them as you can.
Photos During the Flood
Aftermath of Harvey
Helpers in Houston
But even with all the devastation you don’t have to look too far for the evidence of people helping each other. Whether they are other Houstonians, or people who have come from all across the country, Houston is a prime example of what can happen when we support each other instead of tearing down and dividing one another.
How You can Help
Regardless of where you live in the world, you are likely already familiar with this situation. You’ve likely seen the images of volunteers sorting clothing and food, encountered the videos of praise music breaking out in the shelters, and read posts about the disaster on social media.
You may be asking yourself what you can do for Houston in the wake of this massive storm, so here are a few ways to help from wherever you are in the country, or the world.
Gather up things from your neighbors as well and coordinate getting it all to Houston. I would recommend contacting churches in the area as a drop point (see my church list below).
This is both the hardest and the easiest way to help those affected by Tropical Storm Harvey. If you do want to donate though, you can give in several ways.
1. Cold, Hard Cash
There are many organizations helping in Houston right now, and the one that is said to be the most helpful and prepared is Samaritan’s Purse, who started mobilizing equipment before the storm even hit.
Though there are many other organizations in the area right now, I would recommend Samaritan’s Purse for any cash donations.
2. Gift Cards
Whether they are gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores, Starbucks, or even a pre-paid Visa, gift cards help the area tremendously by allowing victims and rescue workers to get things they need directly.
You can usually send these to people in the area who are helping, or to a local church and they will help get them to those in need.
Here are a few churches where I personally know people and would send my hard earned money to with complete confidence that 100% of it would make it to those in need:
This is a super easy way to give and clean out your home at the same time. Sort through your clothing items, find what is still in good condition, and give what you no longer need.
You can also give new items; underwear and socks are especially needed.
4. Baby Items
Diapers, wipes, and formula are needed as many young families could not take ANYTHING with them as they fled rising waters. This includes baby items which are harder to replace with just anything on hand.
Cities as far from Houston as Dallas are sold out of many staples and those items are being purchased and sent to the disaster relief efforts. That’s amazing!
But this effort is going to last for months; years. So keep sending food, and make sure it’s non-perishable (canned goods, bottled water, and so on) so that it can be used later on down the road.
If you are in a position to volunteer your time, please do so. Many, MANY homes were completely flooded, even to the attic, and are in need of demo work.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “skilled” worker, if you are willing to get in and help, you are needed. I personally know several crews that are working their way house to house in neighborhoods just gutting houses for people and moving on to the next one…
Feel free to email me if you’re interested in joining them: [email protected]
BEFORE YOU HEAD TO HOUSTON
There are a few things you need to know before you head out…
Bring your own supplies: There is no gas, no bread, no water to be had in Houston right now. Come prepared to provide for yourself for the duration of your trip…
Bring masks and ear protection. Bring many changes of clothing… and come prepared to work. There is a lot to be done.
7. Support Houston Bloggers
Many bloggers in the state of Texas actually live in Houston. Many have been affected by this storm and you can help them recover without leaving your home and without spending a dime!
When you visit a blog you are helping a blogger pay their bills and keep food on the table just by reading an article. If you have the time to do so, please visit a few of these Houston bloggers and share their content as you are able to help them get back on their feet during this time of heartbreak and loss.
Here are some of the Houston bloggers I know, it’s not a complete list, but it’s a start!
Alyssa @ Good in the Simple
Paula @ Beauty Through Imperfection and Dinner with the Rollos
Kirsten @ Kirsten Oliphant
Stacey @ The Soccer Mom Blog
Stephanie @ Copy Kat
Celina @ Simply Collectible Crochet
Kristin @ The Cookin’ Chicks
Laurie @ Tip Junkie
The folks @ Prepper Living
Sharon @ Mrs. Hines’ Class
If you know of other Houston bloggers I can add to this list, leave a comment and I will add them.
Many people will mock this, but prayer is powerful and the people of Texas know that. So pray for us. Pray that we will come out bigger and stronger than before… even if that might mean we’re even more TEXAN than before too.
Pray for peace for those who have lost everything. Pray for recovery to be swift and for the city to be thriving once again quickly.
Please share this post as far and wide as you can. Houston will thank you. I thank you. The state of Texas thanks you.