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How you can help Texas recover from Harvey

POSTED: September 1, 2017 11:30 p.m.
Jennifer Graham/

Volunteers rescue stranded victims during Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017.

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Emergency officials say that donating money is the best way to help when a natural disaster strikes, but there are plenty of opportunities for people who want to help in more concrete ways.

Airbnb, the online home rental service, has established an internet site where people can search for — or offer — accommodations to people displaced by Harvey.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as at other locations around the country, groups are setting up tractor-trailers where people can bring donations that will be driven directly to Texas.

The needs include not just food, water, toiletries, new clothing and sanitary supplies, but also new toys, said Jim Johnson, program director at WRQQ in Baton Rouge, which is organizing the drive. Toys might not seem like an emergency supply, but they can offer comfort to children staying in shelters and replace those that might have been ruined at home, Johnson said.

The American Red Cross has also asked for blood donations all over the country since it is temporarily unable to collect blood in areas affected by Harvey.

The organization has also set up a way for mobile phone users to easily contribute $10: Text HARVEY to 90999 to make a one-time donation.

Trusted organizations that are collecting money for relief efforts include these, according to the Houston Chronicle:

The Houston Food Bank.

The Texas Diaper Bank.

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The United Way of Greater Houston.

The Jewish Foundation of Greater Houston.

Samaritan's Purse.

The Salvation Army.

Global Giving.

Additionally, the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce has established a fund specifically to support African-American businesses affected by the hurricane. Donations by mail can be made payable to GHBCC Foundation, 4828 Loop Central Drive, Suite 100, Houston, Texas, 77081, or people can donate online.

There is also a relief fund specifically for members of the LGBTQ community, established by The Montrose Center in Houston.

The American Red Cross has said it expects to have a presence in Texas for months. In Ohio and other states, local affiliates are preparing to train volunteers to go into Texas for spans of at least two weeks to relieve those who are there now.

"Volunteers wanting to go to Houston must be healthy and physically capable to deal with long, strenuous hours in adverse conditions," WKYC, an NBC affiliate in Cleveland, reported.

Finally, for people who want to donate money, internet security experts are warning that scams are already operating. The Federal Trade Commission has urged Americans to only donate through trusted organizations and to be wary of any website recently established or any solicitation received through email.

Internet security expert Brian Krebs notes that anyone can establish a website with hurricane-related pictures and a link to donate through PayPal, and that the donations might be going to a criminal's personal bank account.

"Sometimes these sites are set up by well-meaning people with the best of intentions (however misguided), but it’s best not to take a chance," Krebs warned.
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