The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days.
Although the extent of the damage and death toll is not yet clear, the National Weather Service is already calling the storm “unprecedented.” Major highways are submerged in floodwaters, emergency services have received thousands of calls and authorities are urging residents to stay in place.
Recovering from the disaster could take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse.
As emergency services, charities and aid groups gear up to address the massive need from Harvey, here are some ways that you can help.
1. Donate Or Volunteer
A plethora of organizations are appealing for donations to help them as they send volunteers and supplies to the hardest-hit areas.
Food banks throughout Texas are accepting donations for people affected by the storm. You can donate money to Feeding Texas, a network of the state’s food banks, here. Additionally, the Elgin Courier has compiled a list of food bank locations throughout the region that may need donations of food or supplies.
The local Texas Diaper Bank is putting together disaster relief kits for families with young children. You can donate here.
There is also the Coalition For The Homeless, which helps coordinate shelters and outreach for the city’s vulnerable homeless population.
Portlight is a local organization that offers relief to the disabled and older adults.
The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce is raising funds to assist in recovery efforts in those two communities, which were especially hard hit when the hurricane first made landfall. You can donate here.
Animal shelters and rescue groups are taking in numerous pets displaced by the storm ― ones that got lost in the chaos, were left behind or simply need temporary housing while their owners stay in evacuation shelters. Those groups include the Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas, Austin Pets Alive!, the SPCA of Brazoria County, Dallas Animal Services, the San Antonio Humane Society, Harris County Animal Shelter and Houston Pets Alive.
Other organizations traveling to the area to rescue animals or distribute supplies for animals in need include The Humane Society of the United States, Best Friends Animal Society, American Humane and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Louisiana Cajun Navy, a grass-roots volunteer rescue group, is conducting rescue operations in their own boats and is accepting donations here.
A number of online fundraising sites have also been set up through GoFundMe, with donations benefiting everything from hurricane and disaster relief groups to animals and families in need. The full list of fundraisers can be viewed on GoFundMe’s Hurricane Harvey Relief page.
A number of corporations have launched fundraising drives to aid relief efforts. United Airlines has set up a Crowdrise page where people can donate to a variety of organizations, including the American Red Cross and Operation USA. Apple is allowing customers to donate to the Red Cross via iTunes, and Starbucks patrons can donate to the organization at any U.S. store.
United Way of Houston also has a relief fund. Donors can select an affected county to aid or choose to send their donation to wherever it will do the most good.
Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit that delivers supplies and dispatches volunteers to communities hit by disasters, is collecting donations to help people impacted by Harvey.
2. Donate Blood
Blood centers expect a supply shortage because of the closure of some blood banks along the Texas coast and the likely demand stemming from injuries sustained in the storm. Centers have put out calls for extra donors to help deal with the aftermath.
And even if you’re not in Texas, you can search online for blood drives local to you or book an appointment via the Red Cross website.
3. Provide Accommodation For Evacuees
Airbnb has launched a portal so that the people who have been displaced by the hurricane can find a place to stay. It’s also waiving fees for people affected by the disaster. You can offer your space to evacuees, or search the database of available spaces, on Airbnb here. All services fees are waived for anyone affected by the disaster through Sept. 25.
This article has been updated to include additional fundraising initiatives.