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Mon, Sep

Ways to help Texas hurricane disaster victims

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Over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey struck the southeastern coast of Texas.

The storm surge rose the water levels of Galveston Bay, meaning Texan rivers and waterways that drain into the Gulf of Mexico are swollen and stalled, causing massive inland flooding. Current estimates suggest more than 30,000 people could be displaced in the storm and its aftermath as rain continues to pound the area. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated southern Louisiana, especially New Orleans, continued its path northward after making landfall.

While the damage to Louisiana communities was catastrophic, causing about 1,800 deaths, the storm swept over somewhat quickly after landfall, enduring only about three days longer, allowing rescue workers access to the affected areas under relatively clearer skies.

Not so with Hurricane Harvey. The storm stalled over southeastern Texas with winds pulling up warm water from the Gulf of Mexico that one meteorologist called “an endless source of fuel” that will feed the tropical storm as long as it lingers over Gulf waters.

Some areas of Texas are expected to receive as much as 50 inches of rain — just over four feet — before the storm is spent. Rain is expected to fall throughout the rest of the week. While the winds have diminished, the massive rain will cause even more damage over the next few days.

The National Weather Service expects Hurricane Harvey’s damage to much like that of Tropical Storm Allison, which also lingered over the area in 2001, flooding 70,000 homes in Houston and permanently displacing 30,000 people after it too was fueled for days by warm Gulf waters.

While we might be tempted to donate goods and supplies to help those in need, disaster recovery organizations say they best way to help is with direct financial giving. Canned food, clothing and such are bulky and take time to transport. Conversely, rescue organizations can buy food and supplies in bulk at lower prices and ship them faster and more efficiently to the affected areas.

The American Red Cross is the lead disaster response nonprofit in the area. You can donate at redcross.org. The Texas Diaper Bank is also accepting donations to help infants and the elderly. You can donate at texasdiaperbank.org. Portlight Strategies is a nonprofit that specifically aids the disabled and can take donations at portlight.org. The Texas branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is working to recover pets and domestic animals that have been displaced or injured by the storm and aftermath. You can donate at spca.org.

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