Devastation hit the city of Houston, Texas hard on Friday as Hurricane Harvey made landfall. The rains lasted for three days, leaving 30,000 victims displaced and more than two feet of rain across the city. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long said “this is a landmark event for Texas.
On a local level, Chas Eby—communications director for Maryland Emergency Management Agency—emphasized the importance of being prepared as a tropical storm offshoot of Harvey travels up the Atlantic Coast.
“Having a preparedness plan is extremely vital,” he said. “We do not expect to experience impacts like Houston, but we will get a significant amount of rain.”
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While many Houstonians are being rescued and evacuated, forecasters say that more rain is coming. Recovering from a disaster of this magnitude could take years, according to FEMA, and any assistance is useful. As emergency crews, charities, and aid groups in Texas gear up to help the victims of Harvey, here are some ways you can help from Baltimore.
You may not have $25,000 to donate like comedian Kevin Hart, but small donations can make the difference in providing food and shelter for one person. Donors can text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross. Catholic Charities USA, the relief agency for the U.S. Catholic Church, is accepting donations online and by phone by simply texting CCUSADISASTER to 71777.
NFL star and Houston Texan JJ Watt created a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for the victims of Harvey.
“Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on our great city, while leaving many stranded and in need of assistance,” Watt wrote. “We must come together and collectively help rebuild the aspects of our community members’ lives that were damaged or lost. Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. We will come out of this stronger than ever. We are Texans.”
Watt kicked off the efforts with a personal donation of $100,000 toward the $500,000 goal.
The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, has also established a Hurricane Harvey relief fund with the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF). The GHFC will accept tax-deductible donations for the victims of the recent flooding in Houston.
GoFundMe has also started multiple campaigns to raise funds for victims and animal relief in the wake of the devastation.
Local dining establishments have also recently vowed to support the cause. On Sunday, September 3, Pikesville's La Food Marketa will be donating 50 percent of all brunch sales to relief efforts in Houston.
Donating your time can be instrumental in assisting the relief efforts. Organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army deploy volunteers to disaster areas to assist in numerous capacities like offering food to rescue workers and survivors or providing emotional and spiritual support to victims.
Eby says that Marylanders should consider volunteering to “known” organizations as a means to get involved.
“There is a website that local residents can go to, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, to find a list of groups that are participating in the efforts in Houston,” he said. “The organizations listed are reputable and will be more than happy to accept help from anywhere they can get it.”
Check in with family and friends
Social media platforms like Facebook have allowed users to check in and share their “safe” status with friends. But if you happen to have family and friends that live in the Houston area, Eby says it’s best to check on them directly to ensure they are safe.
“We encourage local residents to reach out to anyone they may know in the disaster area,” he said. “If they have experienced power outages or are injured and can’t get help, you may be able to assist in reaching out to first responders even from Baltimore.”