How to volunteer in the wake of Harvey
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — which in Houston, according to the New York Times, set a record for rainfall from a single storm in the continental United States — volunteer and donation efforts are being organized as rapidly as the flood waters filled streets this week.
President Renu Khator sent an email Wednesday addressed to UH Alumni and Volunteer Leaders asking recipients to donate to a UH Cougar Emergency Fund, which will “provide comfort and ease to UH students who find themselves with hardship as a result of the storm,” and the American Red Cross.
“I have never seen this spirit of support more alive than over these last few days as Hurricane Harvey has touched down in our greater community,” Khator said in her email. “Cougars helping Cougars is at the heart of this most challenging time.”
Those who cannot donate money but still wish to help can spend their time volunteering for various organizations around the city.
- Volunteer Houston launched the Virtual Volunteer Reception Center on Monday that matches volunteers with agencies providing disaster relief.
- The Harris County Sheriff’s Office called for those with high-water-safe boats or vehicles to coordinate with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office to help with rescues.
- Hurricaneharveyrescue.org links those with boats with those who require rescue.
- The Houston Food Bank is asking for food, water and supplies.
- The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster have a volunteer sign-up page for those interested in assisting victims of the storm.
- The Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster has a list of volunteer organizations that potential volunteers can use to find a compatible organization.
- Students can join the UH Harvey Relief Carpooling and Volunteer Opportunities Facebook group, which is designed to help UH students coordinate small-scale carpooling and volunteering efforts.
- Visit this website to find shelters that need volunteers (some shelters have reached capacity, so call ahead to check).
- Join the Hurricane Harvey 2017 Facebook page to coordinate and correspond with other volunteers.
- Visit the Hurricane Harvey Relief and Volunteer Opportunities Map to find volunteer opportunities, shelters, resource drop-off locations, medical aid and other relief efforts.
- Call 281-656-1533, a hotline for Volunteer Houston, to find volunteer opportunities.
- Fill out this contact form to receive updates and volunteer opportunities from BakerRipley Disaster Recovery.
In addition, the student organization Metropolitan Volunteer Program is supporting high-volume shelters like NRG Stadium and George R. Brown Convention Center, MVP Director Lisa Menda in an email.
“We hope to continue to help carpool students to these shelters when the University re-opens,” Menda said.
Menda said MVP will be working with its community partners to identify what help is needed and how MVP can fulfill those needs with donations and volunteers.
UH students can volunteer with MVP by signing up for events and shifts by visiting their website.
The OneStar Foundation advises potential volunteers against self-deploying since unexpected arrivals to affected communities creates additional burdens to first responders.
Instead, those willing should go contact an organization listed above or another reputable disaster relief organization.