The images from Houston, and the other communities that were in the path of Hurricane Harvey, are both heartbreaking and uplifting. The devastation is beyond comprehension and they, like many communities across our nation, will soon head into a multi-year grieving and recovery process.
In the hours and days since this storm emerged, there have also been heart filling images and stories of neighbor helping neighbor in those most desperate hours. People risking their own personal safety to rescue a stranger, a room full of evacuees singing to a young boy for his birthday, people on social media helping to direct help to stranded families. Every time we see these images we see the spirit of our country and we see what it means to LIVE UNITED.
2-1-1 in a Personal Crisis and a Natural Disaster
As we saw first-hand here in North Carolina last year, having a single, easy to remember number like 2-1-1 was critical during the immediate hours of Hurricane Matthew's impact but also in the days, weeks and months to come. The behind the scenes coordination on the part of NC 2-1-1 and local and state emergency response teams, coupled with our normally robust resource database were critical to our response efforts. On a normal day we field upwards of 100 calls a day and during the height of Matthew, we handled more than 300.
United Ways in the south Texas and Lousiana area have already geared up to support a number of efforts in the days to come and their residents will also be able to rely on 2-1-1 to find the resources they need in their own communities. If you know someone affected by Harvey, please remind them that dialing 2-1-1 will be one important way to access the latest information for resources and instructions.
Donations and Volunteers Needed
Please remember that you should not enter a disaster zone without the guidance of a formal relief effort. If you are interested in volunteering, follow this link to sign up and get more information.
J.J. Watt - defensive end for the Houston Texans, started out trying to raise $100,000 to help his community. Today he is closing in on what is now shaping up to be a 10 million dollar goal. We love that story. Talk about the power of one individual, joined by many!
But J.J. isn't alone. There are a great number of fundraisers taking place and we encourage you to find the ways you can help but please, always investigate your choices before giving. We found this comprehensive list of local and national efforts on the NPR site.
In addition, we received an email from the president of United Way of America outlining their efforts to support some of the more long term needs in the affected communities. This fundraising effort is in conjunction with those local United Ways and 100% of the dollars raised will go back to these communities. United Way, and the credit card processors (Bank of America and American Express), are all waiving administrative and processing fees. Support this effort by United Way here.