Hurricane Harvey has brutally devastated the Houston area and Texas’s Gulf Coast, and many of us are looking hopelessly at pictures from friends and media, wondering what on earth we can possibly do. Thousands of our neighbors have been left without food or shelter and have experienced a catastrophic event almost entirely unprecedented in the United States’ history.
It’s important to remember that although those of us who may be looking from afar may feel overwhelmed, helpless, or unsure of where and how to start, there is much we can do to help.
We’ve put together a list of ways to support our fellow Texans in this tragedy; it will likely take years for Texas to fully recover, and months for any semblance of normalcy to return. Even the smallest donations of time or money are great contributions.
We hope you’ll join us in supporting of our friends and neighbors in whatever ways you can.
—blog post by Emily Vernon
From the Literary Community:
The Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund is sourced by public donations, either through direct contribution or purchase of a TLA coloring book. Libraries are cornerstones of society, giving everyone free access to knowledge and ideas, and they inevitably play an important role in the U.S’ most diverse and fourth largest city.
- If you’re a librarian and wish to apply for funding for your branch, the link is here.
- To purchase the TLA Coloring Book, benefitting the Texas Library Disaster Relief Fund click here.
- To donate directly, click here. (Side note: the Harris County Public Libraries are updating their Twitter daily; they’re doing their best to get the library open as soon as possible, so check back here regularly for updates.
Best-selling YA author Marie Lu (a headlining author at the 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival), as well as Leigh Bardugo, Joelle Charbonneau, and Kevin Hearne are pledging matching donations to and running the campaign for the Global Giving Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Over $2,361,082 of the $5,000,000 goal has been raised as of 9/2/2017—these funds go to helping the immediate needs of survivors as well as long term recovery efforts.
We’re so happy to see many of our bookstore friends in Houston have escaped extensive damage, and a few will be open and ready to serve the community. In the days following the hurricane, Murder by the Book offered free wifi, free coffee, restrooms, and charging stations to anyone who stops by, and Kaboom Books in the Heights offered drinks, conversation, and (of course) books to those who can make it that way. Community support like this is just one more way to ensure as much normalcy as possible during this time, offering up a welcoming environment that’ll at least get those who can get out of their houses the chance to chat with other Houstonians.
Brazos Bookstore escaped extensive damage and donated a portion of their book sales to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Mayor Sylvester Turner from August 28 through September 3. Unfortunately, some of the lovely folks who work at Blue Willow Bookshop were forced to evacuate or had water damage in their homes, but thankfully they are safe and the store did not experience any extensive damage and opened only a few days following the storm.
Places to send donations:
One of the most pressing needs in Houston and the surrounding area is non-perishable food. Donate to the Galveston, Houston, Corpus Christi, or Southeast Texas food banks to ensure those affected by the storm have access to food. Unfortunately, thousands of Texans have lost their homes and nearly all of their possessions, so it’s critical for food banks to have enough supplies to feed everyone for an extended period of time.
Various agencies throughout Texas are providing life-saving care to those displaced or in danger this weekend. In the midst of providing the necessities, however, many are unable to provide diapers for little ones. The Texas Diaper Bank is collecting donations to help keep babies healthy, happy, and take one less bit of stress off mom and dad in the center of the chaos.
Hurricanes are especially difficult for the homeless, who already struggle to find food and shelter without the devastation and danger of a natural disaster. The Houston Coalition for the Homeless is providing safe shelter for those in need, and monetary contributions can be made on their website.
In anticipation of Harvey’s arrival, many organizations—specifically Austin Pets Alive!, which launched a massive call for fosters—came to the rescue of many animal shelters in the path of the storm and helped move the animals, but supplies are still needed. Houstonians are struggling to find rescue for both their family and their pets, with some even refusing to leave their homes without their dog or cat. The George R. Brown Convention Center, acting as a massive shelter, is allotting a special room for those evacuees with animals. Many see their pets as integral parts of the family, and it’s difficult in times of peril to either be separated or not have the supplies needed to keep the furry friends healthy; even a small contribution can at least help relieve some of the stress off pet owners. The Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas, and the Houston Humane Society are all in need of donations at this moment (definitely check their websites for specific needs before giving).
Americares Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response fund will help get medical supplies to emergency medical responders in the wake of the hurricane. Direct Relief USA does similar work, making sure the needed medications, supplies, and funding are available for disaster victims, and Portlight helps those with disabilities address their medical needs.
The Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi is accepting monetary donations online, or you can donate blood if you live close by. It’s also important we think about our amazing medical professionals working tirelessly during this traumatic time; if you live near a hospital, consider dropping food or coffee for the doctors and nurses working extended hours to help the victims of Harvey (as always, try to check specific needs before bringing donated items). Many stayed behind while their families evacuated to ensure proper care for the community.
Other ways you can help:
SBP, a national relief organization which was started to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, has begun a Hurricane Harvey fund to help survivors rebuild their houses. Many have unfortunately lost their homes and nearly everything in them to water damage, and not all have flood insurance to help offset the cost of repairs, making it an emotionally and financially straining process that’s going to leave many in an unspeakably difficult situation – especially those in Houston’s lower income areas, which have also unfortunately been some of the neighborhoods hit the hardest.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner set up a disaster fund with the Greater Houston Community Foundation that’ll help the survivors of Harvey. There are a variety of ways to donate, including wire transfer, check, credit card, and corporate bond, so individuals and companies alike can extend a hand.
You can sign up to offer your home to evacuees for free with Airbnb. and Airbnb will still provide their normal host insurance. This will offset the costly price of evacuating and all its hidden costs.
If you’re in Austin, many bars and restaurants are still donating a portion of their proceeds to relief efforts. Check Austin360 to see what offers are current and forthcoming.
Have a boat or high-water vehicle? Houston officials are asking for rescue assistance from those in the Metroplex area with boats. Local officials have been working around the clock to save those in need, but Harvey is one of the largest and most detrimental storms we’ve ever seen and the fire and police departments aren’t equipped to address such a widespread issue.
Houston alone is home to over 4 million people—most of whom stayed in the city during the hurricane out of fear of an evacuation nightmare matching Rita’s—which greatly complicates rescue efforts. The nation is coming together to help the Bayou City, and thankfully relief funds are quickly increasing.
There’s already substantial damage with days left of this storm; most of us can’t imagine being lifted from out flooding homes in a helicopter basket, but that’s becoming the frightening reality for many. There are so many ways to help, and any little bit is substantial.