Hurricane Harvey: How You Can Help
Just over a week has passed since Hurricane Harvey hit Eastern Texas. When the storm made landfall on August 25, it was a Category 4 hurricane. Many affected areas received up to 40 inches of rain in a matter of days that resulted in massive flooding, destroying thousands of homes and claiming the lives of dozens of people. Rescues and relief efforts have been constant for the last 8 days by various organizations and charities, both locally and nationally.
Many of us in the Midwest see little first-hand repercussions aside from cooler, rainy weather and higher gas prices. If one does not watch the news or follow news outlets on social media, it would be all too easy to ignore the situation. However, thousands of miles separation should not be an excuse for lack of compassion and action.
While not all of us can hop on a plane and fly into the area to physically aid the relief efforts, there are other ways we can all be involved in helping those affected by Harvey. Many organizations are on the scene providing much needed food, shelter, and clothing to displaced victims. Below is a summary of a few major organizations, their missions, and what they are doing to help.
History: Founder Clara Barton risked her life to bring supplies and medical support to soldiers during the Civil War. After the wat, she traveled to Europe where she learned about the Switzerland-based Red Cross. Returning to America, Barton established the American Red Cross in 1881. The organization received their first congressional charter in 1900 and has worked alongside the government as an independent nonprofit ever since.
Mission Statement: “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” (taken from their website)
What they do: The organization provides services to members of the American armed forces and their families and disaster relief. Their blood drives provide more than 40% of the blood products in the US.
Harvey relief: Red Cross health and mental health volunteers provide first aid, monitor the well-being of those in shelters, replace prescription medications and eyeglasses, and provide emotional support to help those affected by the hurricane cope with the disaster and affects. They set up shelters to provide protection for those affected, and serve meals to those in the area. Their volunteers are on the ground looking for and rescuing those who are stranded. 91 Cents of every dollar donated is invested in humanitarian services and programs.
History: Born out of a desire to spread the Gospel and share the love and power of God with England, William and Catherine Booth formed the Salvation Army in 1865. Through their initial efforts, 250,000 people came to know Jesus Christ during the 1880s, and the Salvation Army movement spread into other countries. Today, the organization has a presence in almost every country.
Mission Statement: “The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Our message is based on the Bible, our ministry is motivated by the love of God, and our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as we meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Every program we offer is rooted in our passion to serve God by serving the lost, the vulnerable, the needy, the poor, the hurting, the helpless, and the hopeless.” (taken from their website)
What they do: The Salvation Army works within communities to provide immediate relief to needs, and creates programs to initiate long-term growth and life-impacting change. They offer services to elderly, impoverished, hungry, and abused among many others. They are helping to fight human trafficking, stop domestic abuse, educate kids, and assist in disaster relief.
Harvey relief: The Salvation Army is providing food, shelter, and water to victims in the area. When able to, they will assist with cleanup efforts, as well as help loved ones find each other. Counselors also provide support emotionally and spiritually.
History: Bob Pierce, after a heart-wrenching trip to an island in Korea, founded Samaritan’s Purse in 1970. His desire was for the organization to work alongside existing evangelical agencies and churches to meet needs. Pierce’s successor Franklin Graham has led the organization for the past thirty years in the idea of being the Good Samaritan, as accounted in Luke 10 of the bible.
Mission Statement: “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (taken from their website)
What they do: After assisting immediate needs, Samaritan’s Purse helps victims recover and gain their footing. They assist in rebuilding damaged homes and building new home, paid in full, for families who lost their home to natural disasters. They have on-going partnerships with churches internationally and assist in building up communities around the world physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Harvey relief: Units are stationed near affected areas to assist in clearing debris, tearing out damaged drywall, tarping roofs, and removing ruined flooring.
There are also several companies with special edition items for sale, donating proceeds to the relief efforts:
Disclaimer: this guide is to serve as suggestions for how to be involved in relief efforts. As always, before giving money to any organization, research the it for yourself and see what they are doing and how you can best help. Also, check out this insightful blog post cautioning about donating material items.