Virginians encouraged to send aid through charitable organizations
While the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to impact the Gulf Coast, Governor Terry McAuliffe ordered emergency response resources to Texas to assist all those impacted by the storm damage and unprecedented flooding. Virginia residents are also encouraged to assist through monetary donations using reputable charitable organizations.
The Commonwealth of Virginia will send seven National Guard helicopters and approximately 40 soldiers to support rescue operations. Fairfax County and Virginia Beach have both sent water rescue crews from their Urban Search and Rescue teams to the area in response to the requests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for direct assistance in the federal response effort. The Virginia Department of Forestry has deployed a 20-person incident management team to assist the U.S. Forest Service as it responds to the incident. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is sending emergency managers to assist in active sheltering operations and the coordination of the many volunteer organizations on the ground.
“As the people of Houston and other nearby areas continue to struggle with the terrible impacts of Hurricane Harvey, Virginia is ready to provide whatever assistance we can,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The aid we have committed at Texas’ request is just the beginning of what we are prepared to send as operations in the region move from rescue to recovery. When any one of our fellow states deals with tragic events of this scale, we all have a responsibility to step up and do everything we can to help. In that spirit, I hope my fellow Virginians will contribute to this effort by making a donation to the American Red Cross or one of the many other reputable organizations that will be helping those affected by Harvey recover as quickly as possible.”
Emergency managers stress that those wishing to help do not self-deploy into the area for their own safety and to keep from distracting Texas and Louisiana responders.
“We are grateful to our military personnel and first responders for supporting the response and recovery efforts taking place in Texas,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Public safety is a number one priority as we provide these additional resources for on the ground support.”
Also, the most effective means for private citizens to contribute to the recovery effort is not to collect clothes, toiletries or other supplies which can require recovery resources to be diverted to sort and distribute the items, but instead to contribute cash to reputable non-profits already on the ground working in the area to help those impacted.
TO DONATE TO RELIEF EFFORTS
- The most effective way to support communities impacted by the storms is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable non-profit charitable organizations.
- Donate through a trusted organization. At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. Individuals, corporations and volunteers can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website.
- The Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD) has a list of vetted disaster relief organizations providing services to survivors. Texas VOAD represents more than three dozen faith-based, community, non-profit and non-governmental organizations.
- Cash donations offer these non-profit agencies flexibility to address urgent needs. These organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location, not only getting needed supplies to those rebuilding after the storm, but also providing economic aid that helps local businesses from which these emergency supplies are purchased to recover faster.
- Do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, household items, medicine, or perishable food. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
TO VOLUNTEER IN THE DISASTER AREAS
Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy. Unexpectedly showing up will create an additional burden for first responders. The National VOAD says the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.
- Potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground. The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community- and faith-based organizations working in the field.
- To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.
- Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery won’t happen overnight. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.