Here’s how you can help Harvey victims on the Gulf Coast

Jennifer Bryant looks over the debris from her family business destroyed by Hurricane Harvey Saturday, smashing homes and businesses and lashing the shore with wind and rain so intense that drivers were forced off the road because they could not see in front of them. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

Jennifer Bryant looks over the debris from her family business destroyed by Hurricane Harvey Saturday, smashing homes and businesses and lashing the shore with wind and rain so intense that drivers were forced off the road because they could not see in front of them. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

We did a little digging to pull together this list of organizations, both local and in Texas, doing the most good for the people on the Gulf Coast.

It’s been a week since Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Corpus Christi, Texas. And while it was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm, Harvey swamped Houston, then swept east, toward Louisiana, knocking out the entire drinking water system in a Texas city of almost 120,000. Even now, coastal residents south of Houston are bracing for more flooding as rivers continue to overflow.

About 325,000 people have already sought federal emergency aid, and FEMA officials said more than $57 million in individual assistance has been paid out thus far. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s asking FEMA to provide a preliminary financial aid package of $75 million for debris removal alone.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said more than 46,000 homes were heavily damaged and nearly 9,000 were destroyed. Officials must now find temporary housing for those in shelters and help others by getting enough gasoline for people to fill up cars.

The White House is preparing an initial $5.9 billion package in Harvey aid, and the president, who will again travel to Texas on Saturday, has pledged $1 million of personal money to the fund.

Other large contributions are also making their way toward the people affected by Harvey’s flooding and destruction, including The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which said Friday it will donate $36 million for Harvey relief efforts. Half of the money will go to launch the Rebuild Texas Fund, which itself aims to raise $100 million.

Harvey, Illinois, is (charmingly) offering 10 free houses to Texans who have lost their homes to the storm that shares the Chicago suburb’s name.

So, yeah, everyone’s doing their part. But many people are still concerned that the little bit they have to give is going to get gobbled up by large organizations, leaving little to get to the people who need it most, on the ground.

With this in mind, we did a little digging to pull together this list of organizations, both local and in Texas, doing the most good for the people on the Gulf Coast.

Our suggestions

All Hands Volunteers is a nonprofit that works with communities affected by natural disasters. The organization’s U.S. Disaster Response team is on location helping victims of Harvey. Donations are tax deductible. You can donate on their homepage.

Americares, a medical aid organization, has an emergency team in Texas currently working to identify the needs of the affected communities, while working with local health centers and free clinics. The organization is helping to provide water, medication, and medical supplies with emergency deliveries. You can make a tax-deductible donation online.

SBP, the St. Bernard Project, out of Louisiana, works to decrease the time between disaster and recovery. The organization has volunteers on the ground cleaning up, training nonprofits on how to navigate FEMA and insurance, as well as proper deconstruction and mold remediation techniques. Additionally, SBP works with government and municipal leaders to design recovery plans. SBP’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund page explains how your donation will help.

Archbishop Charles Chaput has asked that all Archdiocese of Philadelphia parishes consider taking up a special collection on the weekend of Sept. 16-17 to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The special collection is part of a national effort from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist victims of the hurricane and provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses. All funds will support Catholic Charities’ USA, which is helping in Texas through direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services.

The Blood Bank of Delmarva is seeking Philadelphia region residents to assist with a need for more than 2,000 units of blood. The donations will go to several blood banks in Texas. There are centers in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania as well as in Wilmington and Newark, Delaware. You can call 1-8888-BLOOD-8 or make an appointment online.

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is accepting tax-deductible donations online. You can also text HARVEY2017 to 91999 to support the charity.

To assist animals displaced and affected by the disaster, donations can be made the Houston Humane Society and the San Antonio Humane Society. Donations for the Houston Humane Society can be made online. The San Antonio site is housing nearly 80 animals, whether stray animals or pets from families who were forced to leave their homes. The San Antonio site is currently in need of large plastic bins with lids, cases of water, blankets, food, beds, paper towels, animal toys, cat litter, and harnesses. Donate money online.

Colorlines, a news site produced by a team of writers covering racial justice issues also put together a list of deserving organizations. From their article, “How to Donate Money and Other Aid to Communities of Color in Houston,” Colorlines offers a list of organizations whose focus is to provide assistance to immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, and other groups that are disproportionately vulnerable in times of tragedy including RAICES, which finds housing for woman and children stranded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after being released from detention centers; ICNA Relief, also known as Muslims for Humanity; and The Transgender Foundation of America, which has created a relief fund in the Houston area for trans and intersex people, two groups who are often turned away from shelters during disasters.

Finally, both Philly Voice and Billy Penn have reported that, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Philadelphia Council, the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council plans to implement a Hurricane Harvey recovery effort during the Labor Day Parade. Both groups are collaborating to set up a tractor-trailer along the parade route near Colombus Boulevard and Reed Street to collect items like clothing, bottled water, blankets and bedding, non-perishable foods, canned meats, cleaning supplies, diapers and baby formula, soap, shampoo, and other personal hygiene items, trash bags, and more. Both unions will also be planning blood donation banks throughout the city. The first one will be hosted at IBEW Local 98 Headquarters at 17th and Spring Garden streets.

Still concerned about doing the most good? NPR also compiled a list of how you can help, as well as this warning on how not to get scammed.

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