Though my family lives in the city of Houston, we didn’t lose everything in Hurricane Harvey. Our appliances still work, we still have cars, and our kids have a roof over the heads.
We are okay.
But many of my friends and neighbors and thousands of people I don’t know are not okay. I want to do anything and everything I can to help. I want to ease their pain and tell them that “everything will be ok,” but it’s hard to figure out the best way to do that.
I’m a mom and have young children, so I can’t run downtown to a shelter to volunteer all day or demo a house, so I came up with a list of things that I can do around my community to lend a helping hand.
Bring prepared meals (utensils included).
Chances are, people in your community are displaced and are living out of a suitcase or, even worse, have no belongings at all. They would welcome a prepared meal. Just remember, though, simplicity is key. Provide them with a meal that is ready to eat and requires zero prep or cleanup.
Deliver non-perishable groceries.
Bring groceries that don’t need to be refrigerated and/or heated up. (Think snack section of your grocery store.) If you are going to bring items, such as milk and eggs, please bring an ice chest filled with ice. And bring water. Lots of water.
Offer to do laundry.
Many flood victims may no longer have access to a washer and dryer, or simply don’t have the energy to do laundry. People who have lost everything should not have to worry if their children have clean underwear. Period.
Pick up cleaning supplies and anything to help demo the house.
Eventually everyone will rebuild and they need supplies to do it. Stock up on things like trash bags, bleach, and paper towels, so that when people need these things, they are accessible.
Offer to babysit.
We all know how hard it is to get anything done with a child pulling on your leg. Offer to babysit their children, so they can focus on repairing their homes, filing insurance claims, and taking a shower in peace.
Take care of their pets.
Offer to take someone’s pet for an extended period or, at the very least, pick up pet food and offer to take them for a walk. You have no idea how much stress this can relieve. Animals don’t stop needing attention during a natural disaster.
Find an open gas station and fill up their tanks.
Gas is a hot commodity right now. Gas stations are already running low on gas and lines to fill up are ridiculously long. Take this errand off their hands by offering to fill up their tanks.
Donate, donate, donate.
If you cannot donate your time to physically volunteer, then donate household items (such as, clothes, toys, diapers) and/or give money to charities. Amazon, for example, has created a list of items people need to demolish and sanitize their homes. These people have nothing and as Americans it is our job to help those in need.
Consider donating breast milk if you have a freezer full.
We know how hard women work to pump and store their breast milk. Thanks to electrical outages, many lost all the liquid gold stored in their refrigerators. Their children may not be ready or willing to transition to formula. Pay it forward, and help a mama in her time of need by sharing your breastmilk.
Don’t forget, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Everyone shows up right after a disaster, but much of the real help is needed weeks and months down the road. Keep reaching out to people in your community and asking what you can do to help. They will still need your help for a very long time.
Rebuilding and regaining some normalcy after a disaster like Hurricane Harvey takes time, but it will happen, as long as the people who need help are receiving it and we continue to stay positive. So far, the response in the city of Houston has been outstanding. Let’s keep up the good work.
About the Authors: Holly L. is a wild child turned wife and mom who is just trying to get by, one long day at a time. She writes for the blog From the Bottom of My Purse, where she shares her humorous and real stories about her life as an underachieving mom. She’s opinionated, sarcastic, and most of the time, caffeinated.
Lauren Lodder earned her BA from UC Berkeley and her MA from CSUF. Before becoming a freelance writer, she taught writing and literature classes at the college level. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter. Her work has appeared on HuffPost, Scary Mommy, Babble, Buzzfeed, The Mighty, among others.
Resources for Hurricane Harvey
Monetary donations and volunteering
- Greater Houston Relief Fund
- Red Cross – Coastal Bend
- Red Cross – Gulf Coast
- Red Cross – Central & South Texas
- Red Cross – North Texas
- Salvation Army – disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or 1-800-725-2769
- South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is in dire need of blood donations to prepare South Texas Hospitals for Hurricane Harvey
- Texas Workers Relief Fund
- Texas Diaper Bank – Diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies. Donate cash or diapers at texasdiaperbank.org
For FREE HELP with clean up, you can call these hotline numbers to get help from LDS Mormon Helping Hands, Catholic Charities, Etc.
You can also donate to LDS Humanitarian Services. 100% of donations will go to help those in need in various parts of the world. The LDS church is active right now in Houston helping with clean up efforts.