For the past week, the greater Houston area has been inundated with historic and devastating floods, the direct result of Hurricane Harvey, and the likes of which haven’t been seen in an American city in a long time. As a result, thousands of people are in harm’s way, with the storm threatening to derail and destroy countless lives. But luckily, in the worst and most trying of times, some people are stepping up to help their fellow human beings ― here are the creative ways people are helping Harvey victims, because the demand for assistance can’t be overstated right now.
Make no mistake, even when the floods subside and the record downpours of rain stop, the city of Houston (and surrounding areas that have been similarly ravaged) will not be out of the woods. The worst of it will be over, sure, but some experts have predicted that the damage will take months or even years to fully rectify.
And with adverse and major storm events seemingly on the rise in recent years, there's no telling how long the city will have to shore up its infrastructure before something like this happens again. In short, it's important that people are saved, protected, and helped to get back on their feet. Here are eight ways people are trying to help do just that.
1. Offering Free Housing For Storm Victims
Whether it's done on a peer-to-peer level or through an intermediary service like Airbnb, all the people who've opened the doors of their own homes to accommodate displaced victims of the storm deserve major credit and thanks.
2. Letting Storm Victims Sleep In A Furniture Showroom
If you happen to be the owner of a furniture store in a hurricane-stricken area, what's the natural solution? Welcome in displaced people to seek shelter in your showroom. That's exactly what Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale did this week in the face of the storm ― in fact, he opened up two showrooms, letting people in to sleep on his beds and sofas.
3. Rescuing Storm Victims By Boat
Perhaps the most direct and heroic sort of citizen action that's been going on in Houston has been people heading out into submerged streets in their boats, saving people who're trapped inside flooding houses, cars, or stranded in the water. It's important to remember that the deadliest aspect of hurricanes isn't the wind, it's the water, and as such these civilian-manned rescue boats are a heroic, literally life-saving effort.
4. Donating Blood To Storm Victims
It may not be the most dramatic or up-close way to help victims of a natural disaster, but it sure is essential. Houston-area blood banks have reportedly seen an increase in donations over the past several days, and they're asking for even more.
And while it might not sound like it, in the most literal sense, it's one of the most creative ways to help there is. You give a piece of yourself to help someone in need, and your body creates more blood to replace it. It doesn't get much better than that.
5. Keeping Those Waffle Houses Open
It's often said that you can tell how serious a natural disaster is by whether the local Waffle House closes. The hyper-prevalent southern breakfast chain typically stays open through intensely adverse consequences, and although a pair of Houston-area ones have had to shut down in the face of the storm, according to NPR, 30 others remain open, serving hot food (albeit from a pared-down menu) and providing guests a warm place to recharge their phones.
6. Rescuing Beloved, Vulnerable Animals
In life-threatening natural disasters, it's important to prioritize your own safety, no doubt. But throughout the storm, there have been many dramatic scenes of animals being rescued as well, whether by their owners or by random people who swept in to save them.
And make no mistake, the presence of a loving, companionship-providing pet could be a huge help in the months that follow Harvey ― having a furry friend to take some comfort from could help buoy someone's spirits amid a long and grueling recovery period.
7. Buying Essential Goods From The Harvey Victims Amazon Wishlist
If you're looking for a convenient way to purchase supplies for Harvey's victims, you should check out the Amazon wishlists currently online. Needless to say, in this internet-commerce driven world we live in, this is a simple but useful way to help out with your dollars.
8. Turning To Social Media To Alert About Victims
While it's not a good thing that people feel the need to do so ― it'd be much better if flood-vulnerable cities had sufficient infrastructures and emergency services, and if the United States had ever taken climate change seriously enough ― social media has nonetheless been an effective tool throughout Harvey, letting people quickly raise alarms about flood-stricken victims they know.
Of course, there are some especially urgent ways to help the Harvey victims that aren't at all unique or creative ― the tried and true ones, like donating to reputable funds to help alleviate the crushing financial burdens the storm will leave behind. If you're looking to donate, however, make sure you confirm that you're not getting taken in by a scam; The New York Times has some good information on how to avoid this.