Hurricane Harvey has been deemed the most catastrophic and expensive natural disaster in American history.
Harvey has already racked up numerous casualties, displaced tens of thousands of people and has destroyed an unknown number of buildings, highways, bridges, harbors and homes.
Thirty Texas counties have been declared disaster areas. Those thirty counties hold close to 7 million residents. Millions of people will need disaster assistance.
Recovery will not happen overnight. New Orleans is still recovering from the damage Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005.
Southeast Texas is in need following Harvey’s destruction, but should people donate supplies or goods?
CBS News recommends people donate money, rather than goods.
Goods given during emergencies often go to waste, so donating money to organizations operating on the scene is a better way to ensure the people impacted get what they need and one’s Harvey donation dollars go further.
Many across the country are following this recommendation, but while tragedy brings out the best in many, it can also bring out the scammers.
The easiest way to ensure the money people donate goes to Harvey relief efforts is to contribute to organizations that have assisted with disaster relief before.
People should be skeptical of charities that pop up solely in response to Harvey or those with unfamiliar names.
Those looking to donate can check out charities with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star.
Another tidbit of advice is to never give out cash. NPR recommends people donate via credit card or a check made payable to their charity of choice.
People should also be wary of crowdfunding because scammers may claim to represent legitimate organizations online.
Thankfully, the crowdfunding website GoFundMe created a post about safety measures being taken to protect those donating money to relief efforts through their platform.
GoFundMe has created a landing page for Harvey-related campaigns, but it’s important to double-check them to be sure those campaigns aren’t being run by people looking to make a quick buck.
As for texting in donations, it’s important for people to check the charity’s website before texting a donation. If the charity hasn’t authorized text donations, it could be a scammer.
Texting HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross is a confirmed and charity-authorized way to donate to the Red Cross at this time.
Those donating via text message should keep in mind that their contribution may not reach the charity until after their phone bill is paid. NPR recommends donating directly to the charity if possible.
CBS News says people should never donate over the phone, email or through unknown social media pages as these are also easier for scammers to target.
Dallas and Fort Worth have been housing evacuees in convention centers, high schools and middle schools around the metroplex.
Those looking to get involved and offer assistance should look beyond the areas affected by the storm and look into the places that will need help coping with the influx of evacuees for the foreseeable future.
Americans are generous people, and it shows every time a devastating emergency takes place. Almost immediately, thousands open their checkbooks and hundreds roll up their sleeves and get to work helping wherever and however they can.
It’s important that Americans and fellow Texans continue to give and help out as they can during this difficult time. It also will be important for people to continue to do so even after the floodwaters recede and the news coverage dies down.