How to Help Hurricane Victims
Even though hurricane season ends on November 30, recovery and rebuilding takes months, or even years. We’ve compiled a list of ways to help hurricane victims of the 2017 season
March 2, 2018
In last week’s episode of Ask This Old House (S16:E16), the crew visited Houston to help the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey. At the end of August 2017, 51 inches of rain flooded the city, damaging 100,000 of its homes. Outside of Houston, Hurricane Harvey claimed an additional 150,000 homes.
Tommy Silva spoke with Brandon Callahan at Team Rubicon, a veterans-based response organization currently helping with rebuilding efforts. They first responded with rescue efforts, traveling throughout Houston in boats. In this episode, they covered the demolition costs of a home that needed to be rebuilt, like they’ve done for others that needed a fresh start. You can contribute to Team Rubicon financially or as a volunteer.
Thankfully, not every house needs to be rebuilt. Richard Trethewey met with Mickey Caison, who has been with SEND Relief since 1989. His group is in Houston helping with clean-up inside homes, like removing drywall, bad appliances, and treating homes with mold-mitigation solutions approved by the EPA. SEND Relief has a variety of focus areas, and you can specify which current project you’d like to donate to on their website.
Local community groups and charities are also vital to rebuilding efforts. Roger Cook spoke with Erica Hornsey at the Houston Community ToolBank, which opened in 2014. According to its website, the ToolBank has leant out over $1.3 million in tools and relief for free (generally, they provide tools to community groups at a 3-percent lending fee per tool per week). You can donate time, funds, or tools to the group, as well as sponsor a section of tools in the warehouse.
In one Houston neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity helped rebuild – in many cases to homes they had built originally – to help families find a fresh start. Kevin O’Connor spoke with homeowner Audrey, who is living in a hotel while the drywall and appliances are replaced. She lived in the home for ten years, and is excited that she’ll get to return. Houston Habitat accepts donations of time and money.
Later in the season, Hurricane Irma struck the Caribbean and Eastern Coast of the United States and was quickly followed by Hurricane Maria in Dominica and Puerto Rico. Team Rubicon, SEND Relief, and Habitat for Humanity are also assisting people in areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
We’ve compiled a list of additional information from various news organizations below, but always encourage you to read more about a charity before making a donation.
Donations by Category
- CNBC has compiled a comprehensive list of charities, split into several categories: general, medical, supplies, volunteer opportunities, and animal rescue.
- Giving blood or providing shelter are other ways to help, as discussed in this AccuWeather article.
Sending Assistance to Specific Locations
- The New York Times created separate lists of charities that are helping victims of Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey.
- Based on federal reports and interviews, PBS compiled the best ways to provide assistance with cash, supplies, and by volunteering.
- CNN provided ideas for donating time, money, and supplies.
Tips for Choosing a Charity
- Consumer Reports has great tips for making intelligent donations, like watching for fraud and how to consider crowdfunding campaigns. These tips focus specifically on disaster relief in Puerto Rico.
- The New York Times created a similar article, suggesting to consider your values before donating and to continue following up several months after the disaster.
Lists of Charities with Ratings
How to Volunteer
You can visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website and register as a volunteer to help with recovery in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Visit the National Center for Disaster Fraud website to report any disaster-related fraud to the Department of Justice.