It’s been nearly a week since Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, but local officials are just beginning to assess the damage and devastation of what is expected to be the costliest natural disaster in US history. Recovery efforts will take years, if not decades. There are a lot of ways Americans can help Houston right now—particularly through donations—but where will your money have the most impact?
On this week’s episode of Big Time Dicks, we spoke to two charities about the logistics of helping Harvey’s victims and how Americans can best support relief and rescue efforts in both the short and long-term.
Marcie Roth recently left FEMA to run the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies under Portlight, a charity that works to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to disaster relief. “We operate a hotline, our hotline has been operating since before the hurricane reached landfall,” Roth explained, saying the organization has been receiving phone calls from individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities requesting help with evacuation or resources.
Portlight also works with federal and local organizations and connect them with callers who need assistance. “Donating money really does help,” Roth says. “Donating bags of clothing, donating food that is just typically not going to be helpful. The work involved in sorting and distributing is just too many layers of complications and most of what gets donated ends up not being useful.”
Another option is Global Giving, a crowdfunding platform that vets every charity they work with. Though Global Giving works internationally, when a disaster strikes they raise money for local charities who are invested in rebuilding the community. “People need coats and meals right now, and that’s what those big organizations can provide,” said Alison Carlman, Director of Impact and Communications at Global Giving, of charities like the Red Cross, “but we know that local organizations are also providing some of those materials and some of those resources and we know that they’re really in it for the long run, they’re really in it for the long haul, and so that’s why we’re really focused on those local organizations.”
Global Giving is raising money for vetted charities like the Houston Food Bank, the Texas Diaper Bank, the Humane Society of Dallas County, and Circle of Health International for immediate and long-term relief to victims of Harvey. “We know that this is a disaster that is going to take years, if not decades, Carlman explained, “to recover from and Houston will probably never be the same, and so, we’ll be supporting organizations that will still be working a decade from now to help people eventually get back to a sense of normalcy in their lives.”
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