How to Help After Harvey

Donate, send goods, foster a dog, do your part

The rain may have stopped, but Harvey continues to wreak havoc across Texas. Last weekend’s storm dumped more than 11 trillion gallons of water around the state, causing historic flooding in Houston and some of the state’s most beloved coastal respites.

Red Cross volunteers and staff receive orientation on Aug. 29 for deployment either in Austin or Houston. (Photo by Jana Birchum)
According to CNN, on Thursday (Aug. 31) – six days after the storm made landfall – Houston Fire Department began a “door-to-door mission” in southwest Houston to search for people (and pets) still trapped in houses by the flood. More than 15,000 people have already been rescued, and yet officials are still uncertain how much has been lost and long it will take to rebuild and rehome those who have been displaced.

Back in Austin, the MetCenter shelter has opened and as of Wednesday evening, Sept. 6, approximately 250 guests and 19 pets are residing there. According to the city, earlier Wednesday, just over two dozen evacuees left for Victoria to take shelter closer to their homes. Since opening its doors last week, the shelter has been equipped with a medical clinic staffed by CommUnityCare Health Centers and Dell Medical School. Additionally, Capital Metro has rerouted bus route 228 Burleson to better serve the shelter. A temporary bus stop has been installed and service began Saturday. On weekday, the bus will arrive every 17 minutes between 5:30am and 10:30pm (on weekends it’ll drop to every 35 minutes).

Austinites can help our struggling neighbors by working with and supporting local organizations. We'll keep updating this list as we hear of more volunteer and donation opportunities. You can also find listings of local Harvey benefits here.

General Aid/Support

Mayor Steve Adler: Update (Wed., Sept. 6) – Adler's third resident challenge is a new toy drive for displaced kids – infants to teenagers (think board games, playing cards, sports balls, crayons/markers/colored pencils, coloring books, and puzzles). Please avoid toy weapons, glitter, glue, or food items. Donations can be dropped off at the Blue Santa Warehouse, 4101 S. Industrial Drive, #260, weekdays between 9am-4pm through Sept. 15. If volunteers are available on Sept. 7-8, Adler also requests "elves" to help distribute toys. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Adler announced that over 5,000 welcome kits and more than 500 animal crates have been donated....In anticipation of welcoming thousands of evacuees to town, Adler announced Wednesday (Aug. 30) that “company's coming, and everybody's got chores." He’s asked Austin residents to make 6,000 welcome kits for Austin Disaster Relief Network to distribute, (and to donate 500 large crates to Austin Animal Center for displaced pets – bonus if the crates come with sheets and/or towels). Welcome kits can be packaged in a reusable bag or plastic container with a lid and should include: towel, washcloth, soap, tissue, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, menstrual hygiene products, shampoo, comb, blanket, pillow, wipes, baby bottles/formula/baby food, diapers, and lastly “a note of encouragement.” Bring completed kits to Hope Family Thrift Store between 10am-5pm, Mon-Sat. (Dog crates should be dropped off at AAC, see below). The city also needs translator help – Adler said medical translation and Asian language are the top priorities. Register online if you can translate. "If people come to Austin seeking shelter, we're going to find space for them,” said Adler. “But only you can make them feel at home."

The American Red Cross: The national organization is working to provide shelter, meals, and medical aid, and is asking for volunteers and monetary support. Donating is easy: visit www.rdcrss.org/hurricaneharvey, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 (charged straight to your phone bill). Or go here to volunteer.

H-E-B/Central Market: H-E-B and Central Market are accepting customer donations through their statewide tear pad campaign. Shoppers can choose at checkout to add an additional $1, $3, or $5 to their bill for donation, which H-E-B will split between Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Feeding Texas. The grocery chain donated $100,000 toward hurricane relief efforts the weekend of the storm and sent food, water, and medicine to Victoria. Now,

The Salvation Army: The organization is mobilizing its Emergency Disaster Services to provide “physical, emotional, and spiritual care to survivors and relief workers.” Even after the storm passes, SA will assist with long-term disaster recovery efforts and community assistance. Financial assistance is most useful. Donate online, or by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Texas Association of Business: The statewide group has begun connecting all businesses affected by the hurricane (not just TAB members) with resources to help them rebuild. Information can be found online. Interested businesses should call the hotline at 512/637-7714.

Counter Balance ATX: The local nonprofit is doing its part in supporting Harvey victims. Aside from collecting donations, Counter Balance is asking local community members to volunteer to help research, identify, and confirm shelters for evacuees, and businesses or churches willing to act as drop-off sites for donations. The org will start distributing supplies Wed., Aug. 30, and promises to “continue to send supplies through the upcoming months.”

Zilker Bark: Austinite Alex Hopes, the founder and photographer behind one of the city’s most popular instagram account, Zilker Bark, has started Corgis for Harvey Victims, a GoFundMe campaign raising money for Red Cross’ Harvey relief work. With Hope’s 110,000 followers, he hopes that 10% will donate even a $1 to reach a goal $10 thousand. In return, Zilker Bark is posting only photos of corgi puppies until the goal has been reached.

DonorsChoose: While it’s technically not local, this online campaign asking for monetary donations is the only one we’ve seen yet that directly helps rebuild schools damaged by flooding. According to the site, funds will go towards helping rebuild and restock classrooms with books, furniture, supplies, technology, and therapy resources.

Refugee Services of Texas: With one of this organization’s six locations located in Austin, this nonprofit that helps settle refugees in the Lone Star State is asking for cash donations to help them help their clients who’ve been affected by storm and subsequent flooding.

Medical

We Are Blood (formerly the Blood Center of Central Texas): The local organization supplies blood for 40 medical facilities within a 10-county region – many of which are assisting patients affected by Harvey. According to a post made on their Facebook page on Tuesday, Sept. 5, We Are Blood needs 200 donations a day to "serve our community and those displaced by Harvey." They also recommend interested donors make appointments for the coming weeks because "blood only has a shelf life of 42 days." If you can, consider donating. Donation locations available online, or by phone: 512/206-1266.

YWCA Greater Austin: The local advocacy nonprofit is offering free support groups and crisis counseling for Harvey survivors. Cash donations help: $10 allows a person in crisis to participate in a group therapy session; $25 helps a displaced person, couple, or family access crisis counseling sessions. Volunteers are also needed. Interested parties should contact Volunteer and Training Institute Coordinator Haleigh Campbell at 512/326-1222 x.113.

Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin: MMBA provides donor human milk for ill or premature infants, and has coordinated emergency deliveries to eight hospitals in Houston and the surrounding area, including four deliveries on Wednesday made by helicopter where the roads are still inaccessible. MMBA is seeking donations from healthy lactating mothers who have a surplus of milk, volunteers who are able to work in the milk processing lab, and financial donations to support the organization.

Food

Central Texas Food Bank: The largest hunger relief nonprofit in Central Texas is currently asking for monetary donations to assist with the creation of “disaster boxes,” which the organization will fill with easy-use items for those impacted by the storm. Cash donations allow the food bank to more efficiently distribute boxes to those in need. If time is easier, consider organizing a food drive or volunteering. Phone: 512/282-2111.

Feeding Texas: The statewide organization is also collecting monetary donations to better aid impacted families. Through local outposts, Feeding Texas is already providing food boxes, shelter meals, and cleaning supplies where needed. Donate here, or contact Celia Cole at ccole@feedingtexas.org for in-kind donations.

Local Businesses: The Chronicle’s Chrontourage has compiled a list of local businesses that are donating a portion of their profits to helping those affected.

Animal Support

Austin Pets Alive!: Our beloved nonprofit has been working with animal shelters in Harvey’s path to transport animals to APA! As of Saturday, Sept. 2, the shelter has taken in approximately 1,700 pets from Houston and other affected cities. Pet surrenders in these areas are continuing. Because of the community's support, APA has announced that they're currently accepting only monetary donations due to lack of space. If you can house a dog or cat, consider fostering. At this time, APA! needs long-term fosters (2-4 weeks for dogs, 4-6 weeks for cats). Supplies are provided while they last. Fill out an application and email foster@austinpetsalive.org.

Austin Animal Center: The city-run shelter always has its hands full during stormy weather when pets are more likely to get scared and escape. They’re accepting donations of all kinds (towels were their biggest need over the weekend) and are always accepting fosters and volunteers. Visit during open hours and you can help walk some dogs in need of a good stretch.

Austin Wildlife Rescue: This local org takes in, rehabilitates, and releases orphaned, injured, and sick wild animals. On Saturday, Aug. 26, alone they rescued 46 from Harvey’s wrath. They’re asking for cash or in-kind donations from their wish list.

Yard Bar: Austin’s dog park meets bar will spend September collecting pet supplies for shelters and pet-owners affected by the storm. Customers who donate will receive a $5 coupon for Yard Bar dining. Additionally, $2 of every Smirnoff cocktail purchased will be donated to Harvey relief and the vodka company will match donations up to $2,000.

Austin Humane Society: Like APA and AAC, AHS is taking in as many displaced pets and strays as they can fit. To make room for incoming animals, the humane society is waiving all adoption fees for cats, kittens, and dogs (puppies remain regularly priced). They too need donations of the cash (because of limited space they're asking donors to consider monetary donations or gift cards at this time), and fosters. Interested temporary pet parents should email fostercare@austinhumanesociety.org with name, email, phone number and cat/dog that your home can host. Because AHS is working to reunite pets and families, dog adoptions are currently on hold until further notice. However, starting Wednesday, Sept. 6, the shelter at 24 W. Anderson Ln. will open daily from 1-5pm for cat adoptions.

Housing

HomeAway: The Austin-based vacation rentals company has waived all fees associated with booking “Temporary Housing” to help house Harvey evacuees, but the full cost depends on discounts offered by property owners. If you have a rental listed on HomeAway consider making it available to those in need. You can list your rental online or call 1-888-337-0843. (Those looking for a place to call home for some time can visit this page or call 1-888-336-7713.)

Supplies

Wildflower Church: The Unitarian Congregation is now helping to house evacuees as they arrive in Austin. The church is asking for donations of first aid kits, vinyl gloves, baby supplies (food, diapers, formula, bottles), clothing for men and children, undergarments for all ages, and shopping bags to be dropped off at 1314 E. Oltorf. Volunteers to organize supplies and help find more permanent accommodations also needed.

Austin Disaster Relief Network: The local coalition of churches is collecting Adler's requested Welcome Kits, Survivor Clean Up Kits, and additional survivor supplies. Drop off donations (see needed items online) to the Hope Family Thrift Store at 1122 E. 51st Street, additional locations listed online. ADRN is tirelessly working to distribute "pallets of items" to survivors throughout the state.

Toy Drive

Toy Joy: The local toy shop is running a Texas Toy Drive now through Sept. 15, to help meet Adler’s Toy Drive request for kids. Buy a toy there for a “Harvey kid” and they’ll take 25% and deliver it to Blue Santa for you too. Toys not purchased at Toy Joy can still be dropped off there (403 W. 2nd St.) for Santa delivery.

Go! Retail Group: Another local store also offering discounts (30%) on all games, toys, and puzzle donations, and working as a drop-off site at all five locations. What’s more, Go! will match a teddy bear donation for each toy purchased to donate “up to 5,000 teddy-bears to kids in need of special comfort.”

Passed

Fed Truck Friday: On Friday, Sep. 1, more than 40 local food trucks, organized by Trucklandia Fest, will be raising money for Keep Austin Fed and Red Cross to help Harvey survivors. Customers should inform cashiers: “I’m here to feed my face and spread the love!” and 10% of their bill will be donated. Keep Austin Fed repurposes food retailers would trash and distributes it to local food banks, shelters, and churches. In light of Harvey, the org has partnered with Houston-area food banks to keep them fed as well.

Lucky Brand: The two local retailer outposts are accepting donations (blankets, toiletries, baby clothes, diapers, etc) at both the Domain and Barton Creek Square locations during store hours until close on Monday, Sept. 4. Afterwards, supplies will be provided to families in need of assistance in the Houston area.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Drive: A few locals have banded together to collect donations to help coastal residents recover. Consider donating clothes, toiletries, canned goods, diapers, etc. Drop donations at New Stomping Grounds in North Austin between now and Sept. 2.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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