Hurricane Harvey: How You Can Help

Yesterday, the sun started shining. The sweltering August sunshine is not usually cause for celebration in Houston. Yesterday, it was.

Hurricane Harvey has dropped over 19 trillion gallons of water in the city of Houston. The resulting devastation may cost as much as $190 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Harvey ravaged our city of 6.3 million, leaving at least 31 dead and 40,000 families with flooded homes. As their houses filled with water, tens of thousands of people climbed onto their roofs and waited, sometimes for hours upon hours, to be rescued in boats. They lost everything in an instant; they were forced into shelters that quickly reached capacity. Even though the rain has mostly moved out of Houston, houses are still flooding, people are still waiting to be rescued, and chemical spills are causing even more issues; this disaster is far from over.

[caption id="attachment_66814" align="alignnone" width="534"]Joe Raedle, 2017 Getty Images Joe Raedle, 2017 Getty Images[/caption]

Harvey affected Houstonians in a way that none of us could have imagined. Several of our own team members lost their homes in this disaster.

While Headcovers itself was not damaged in Harvey, during Hurricane Ike in 2008, the roof of our building caved in; the building and our inventory was ruined and, for 6 months, we ran the business out of a storage unit. It was then that we saw the best in humanity. Complete strangers helped us haul furniture and inventory out of our water filled building.

[caption id="attachment_66815" align="alignnone" width="676"]Richard Carson, Reuters Richard Carson, Reuters[/caption]

Nine years later, the selfless, generous nature of people is put into the spotlight once again. In the face of this horrendous disaster, humanity and love seem to overpower everything else. In an almost unbelievable demonstration of generosity, everyone wants to help. Both responders and regular citizens are venturing out on boats and in trucks, risking their own safety to help those in need. Individuals are opening their homes to strangers without hesitation. While so many of us are moved to help in any way we can, the need is unbelievably great.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="992"]hurricane-harvey-epa-jpo-170828_4x3_992 Texas Military Department via EPA[/caption]

Not everyone is able to go on boat rescues, volunteer directly, or donate thousands of dollars. During such a tragic event, it is easy to feel like there is nothing you can do to help. But there is always something you can do.

The most obvious, easiest, and often most helpful thing you can do is to donate money. Monetary donations allow relief efforts to get exactly what they need to help the most people possible. There are charities upon charities clamoring for money, so it can be difficult to know who to donate to. We recommend the Salvation Army due to their efficiency and the amount of money that actually goes to programs. Any amount of money helps. If everyone in Houston alone donated $1, we would raise $6.3 million.

[caption id="attachment_66816" align="alignnone" width="1440"]Nick Oxford/Reuters Nick Oxford/Reuters[/caption]

Alternatively, you can donate supplies. If you do choose to donate supplies, make sure to call the shelters you are donating to beforehand to find out what they actually need. Many people with good intentions create even more problems when they donate without thinking; people in Houston's shelters do not need wool coats, high heeled shoes, or prom dresses, but all of these items have been donated, taking up valuable space. Save these items to give to your local Salvation Army store. Additionally, check the expiration dates on food you donate. Remember that shelters need more than just food and clothes; they also need things like toiletries, diapers, new socks and underwear, and bedding.

Please keep Houston in your thoughts and prayers. Here's a link where you can help:

(Main Photo by Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)