This has been a rough few days for Texans, particularly those living on the Gulf Coast. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and the largest one in Texas by far. Chances are, if you’re not hunkered down trying to ride out Harvey, you have loved ones in Houston and its surrounding areas who are. This storm has caused unprecedented destruction, and it’s not over yet. Even here in Austin, trees are down in my neighborhood and power was out for over 24 hours for many residents – and we’re 150 miles from Houston.
Several of my neighbors in Austin have opened their homes to evacuees, and those who can’t do so are looking for other ways to help. Giving money (not stuff) is still one of the most effective things you can do. To ensure your donation gets the most impact, give to a local organization with a good track record of using the majority of donations to directly help people in need (rather than salaries or fundraising). With the assistance of Charity Navigator, I chose to donate to the Houston Food Bank.
Instead of providing a booklist, I’ve compiled a list of resources and further information that were especially useful or enlightening for me when trying to understand Harvey, its effects, and how to help. If you have any other information you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments.
- Journalist Jia Tolentino wrote a great Twitter thread about Houston and ways to donate locally.
- The Texas Tribune has a good summary of why people didn’t evacuate before Harvey. Evacuating such a large population (over two million people in Houston alone, plus millions more in surrounding areas and along the coast) would ultimately cause more deaths from accidents and heat illness (it’s over 100 degrees every day in southeast Texas in August) than hunkering down and riding it out. A drive that would normally take 3 hours takes 20 or more during an evacuation. The decision not to evacuate was informed largely by Hurricane Rita in 2005, where more people died from attempted evacuation than the storm itself.
- It’s also good to remember that being able to evacuate at all is a privilege for those with money, which disaster researcher Mika McKinnon breaks down in this Twitter thread.
- Just how bad is Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey? The New York Times has a good explanation.
- The Guardian US has a set of before and after photographs that drive home the seriousness of the flooding in Houston and along the coast. There are feet of water on major highways. SUVs would be completely submerged.
- Private residents with boats have answered the call to help rescue those in need of it. This man is one of many.
- Kate Messner has set up a KidLit Cares auction to help raise money for the relief effort. Kelly is offering a Skype visit and 10 signed copies of Here We Are as part of the auction; there are almost 200 different items being auctioned so far and some of them are very, very impressive. Take a look.