How to help Hurricane Harvey victims
Watching people being rescued from roofs and treetops in Texas while the rain still falls is heartbreaking. Seeing several feet of dirty water from Hurricane Harvey’s wrath rushing through neighborhoods and people’s living rooms is devastating.
I am a reporter, but for me, it is personal because some of those flooded places are the same ones I frequented as a teenager. My parents were divorced and summers for my sister and me were usually spent with our dad near Houston. We would hang out with our cousin, swimming, fishing and swinging from a rope over Spring Creek. We really loved it when the creek was swollen with extra rainwater. The crawdads would swim by our heads as we did the breaststroke to the other side, exhausted from the rushing current. But even when there had been a few days of rain, as there often was, the water receded pretty quickly. Not this time.
The last few days, I have seen images of neighborhoods mostly underwater — the same ones where my dad installed his kitchen cabinets and fireplace mantels. Despite the fact my father has been gone more than 30 years and my cousin died year before last, I feel a kinship with these people. It is always sad, but it feels too close to home. At press time, tens of thousands of Texans are thought to be homeless and Louisiana was bracing for the storm’s impact there.
That being said, I called Clay County Commission Chairman Clay Logan to find out how people can help. You may remember, he and Chamber Director Pam Roman drove two trucks full of donated supplies to Clay County, West Virginia last summer after that county was flooded. Logan had already been making calls to find out how to help when I spoke with him. With people still being rescued and nowhere to store donations, there really is not much we can send at this time, he said.
Logan said he has been told to direct people to the Red Cross for donations. He also mentioned UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Salvation Army is working to help victims, as well. All three organizations have many volunteers trained to handle all sorts of disasters, but money is needed to provide supplies, food and water.
The Better Business Bureau has warned people to beware of groups claiming to collect donations for hurricane victims. Here are some ways you may help:
— Smoky Mountain UMC District Superintendent Randall Harry said the organization is building its supply of hygiene kits and flood buckets. The information about what goes into a flood bucket or hygiene kit may be found at:www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies. In the Smoky Mountain District, the following churches have kindly agreed to act as collection points to receive hygiene kits and cleaning (flood) buckets:
• Central UMC (Clyde) Drop-off times: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 410 Charles Street, Clyde, N.C. Contact person: Karen – (828) 627-2287.
• First UMC (Sylva) Drop-off times: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, 77 Jackson Street, Sylva, N.C. Contact person: Janis – (828) 586-2358.
If Clay County churches begin collecting, that information will be shared next week and on the Progress Facebook page.
— For monetary donations to UMCOR, mark donations for “Disaster Response” and make checks payable to the Western North Carolina Conference, sending them to the Conference Office at P.O. Box 18005, Charlotte, NC 28218. The UMCOR number for this special offering is “UMCOR Advance 901670.”
— The Salvation Army has provided food, clothes and shelter to victims, but may volunteers are still working search and rescue. Donations to The Salvation Army may be made:
• Online at: www.helpsalvationarmy.org.
• By calling 1-800- SAL-ARMY.
• By texting STORM to 51555.
— The Red Cross is providing cots, meals and shelters to those displaced by the storm. Donations to the Red Cross may be made:
• Online at www.redcross.org.
• By calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
• By texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation
— If helping animals is your passion, Humane Society Shelters in the greater Atlanta area have begun taking in displaced pets while families have no home. Contact your favorite shelter to find out how you may help provide for animals.
In addition, Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster have vetted many organizations to offer assistance within the state, That list is available at: www.txvoad.communityos.org/cms/node/104.