Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving Vetted since 2002 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Project of the Month Site Visit Verified
Yum-Yum + Koko lounge in their new home in Houston
Yum-Yum + Koko lounge in their new home in Houston

The images flashed across the television screen and burned into Betsy Fleming’s mind. A drenched cat swimming through deep flood waters. Dogs chained up and abandoned in their backyards.

An animal lover, Betsy had to do something after Hurricane Harvey.

The Houston resident volunteered at a pop-up pet shelter and reunion center in Conroe, Texas, operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

“Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones that was high and dry, but when I saw the devastation around me, and when I saw what else was going on in the city and how difficult it was, I wanted to be able to reach out and help somehow,” said Betsy.

Your donation made it possible for Betsy—and more than 1,300 Best Friends fellow volunteers—to act fast. They cared for more than 1,600 Harvey-affected animals from August to November. They cuddled scared cats, calmed distressed dogs, and cared for animals in harm’s way after the storm.

For Best Friends, reuniting lost animals with their families was the ultimate goal. But after a disaster of Harvey’s proportions, it’s difficult, Betsy explained.  

“People are out there looking for their animals. But at the same time, they’re coming back to nothing. They’re coming back to no house, no car, nothing,” she said. “I am sure there’s still a lot of heartbroken people out there because they lost a family member during Harvey.”

Thanks to Betsy, three homeless cats were able to put the horrors of Harvey behind them, for good. Betsy adopted two kittens, Koko and Yum-Yum, from the Best Friends shelter where she volunteered. Her mother, who lives in New Orleans, adopted a cat named Lola.

“I was immediately drawn to them, especially Koko, because every time I would walk by their cage, she would come to the front and just cry and cry and cry and cry. I’d reach in and pick her up, and she would just plaster herself to my body,” Betsy said.

The Houstonian couldn’t leave behind Lola, either. “She had the saddest eyes. She seemed very depressed at finding herself in this situation,” recalled Betsy.

All three cats are now happily settled into their new homes, Betsy said. Yum-Yum is a curious troublemaker, and Koko loves to cuddle. In New Orleans, Lola is treated like a queen—she sleeps in bed with Betsy’s mom and gets canned cat food and lots of toys.

“She is very thrilled with her life,” Betsy said.

With your help, Best Friends cared for nearly 800 animals at its Texas shelter in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey. Koko, Yum-Yum, and Lola are among 99 homeless pets who were adopted into loving new homes after the storm, according to Candi Maciel, who leads Best Friends’ partnership with GlobalGiving.

Some lucky pets were reunited with their families. This includes Boy, a caramel-colored pit bull terrier, whose family was forced from their apartment in Houston to Dallas after the hurricane. Best Friends’ reunited Boy with his family in November.

Best Friends had to send 500 Harvey-displaced animals to other shelters across the United States. The nonprofit is working hard to ensure their stories will end happily, too. Last month, it wound down its hurricane relief operations but plans to maintain a presence in Houston to help save as many animals as possible.

“The brightest light during this unprecedented series of storms was the constant reminder that together, we can make a difference,” said Kelly Morton of Best Friends. “Thanks to your swift and generous support, we were able to provide aid to affected animals exactly when it was needed the most.”

Thank you again for your generous support of vetted, high-impact nonprofits, like Best Friends Animal Society, that are helping people (and their pets!) affected by Harvey recover. We’ll be back in your inbox again in the coming months with more stories of progress.

Warmly,

Britt Lake + GlobalGiving Team

Best Friends helped Boy reunite with his family
Best Friends helped Boy reunite with his family
Renee, Coalition For The Homeless Of Houston/H.C.
Renee, Coalition For The Homeless Of Houston/H.C.

Tommy put aside his paperwork to help set up a mass shelter.

Sara convinced landlords across the city to open their apartments to people who had nowhere to go.

Renee partnered with a furniture company to ensure survivors had beds to sleep in and cabinets stocked with food.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it meant double-duty for people like Tommy, a grants manager at BakerRipley, and Sara, a communications manager at the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County.

Thanks to you, these local heroes in Houston had the resources they needed to respond to the most pressing needs their communities in the wake of Harvey. With your support, our partners are restoring hurricane-ravaged homes, feeding displaced families, and caring for the most vulnerable survivors of the storm.

You can learn more about the heroic people you empowered in our new series, “After the Storm.”

With your support, our 29 Hurricane Harvey relief partners are now focused on meeting long-term disaster recovery needs in the hardest-hit Houston communities. That means ensuring vulnerable storm survivors, including immigrants, the elderly, children (and abandoned pets), have food and shelter.

While life looks like it’s back to normal in most parts of Houston, with electricity humming and doors open for business, the situation is still dire for thousands of people who our partners serve.

Two months after Harvey, our partners told us many people are still living in hotels, or even worse, their cars. Some are lucky enough to have families to lean on and stay with, but our partners said cramped living quarters and high-stress situations have strained relationships for some Harvey survivors. In some cases, people were living paycheck to paycheck or rooming with a friend in a now-damaged property. They’re struggling to find stability again with storm-related expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. Some survived domestic violence but were undocumented, and now need extra help to get back on their feet.

“Documents showing identity and evidence of abuse—needed for their legal cases—were lost with the rest of their belongings in the floods,” the Tahirih Justice Center reports.

Full recovery from Hurricane Harvey by all accounts will take years, and there are many challenges to still overcome. With you by our side, the GlobalGiving community will continue to be a strong source of support for Houston heroes—throughout the holiday season and for the long haul.

Warmly,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Tommy, BakerRipley
Tommy, BakerRipley
Sara, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/H.C.
Sara, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/H.C.
Photo from All Hands Volunteers
Photo from All Hands Volunteers

Hurricane Harvey submerged Jermaine Anderson’s home under three feet of water.

“Everything I had was obliterated,” he said from one of the last mass shelters for hurricane evacuees in Houston—a shuttered department store inside a mall. “How much more could a person lose in a single year?”

I met Jermaine last month when I visited Houston. He is one of the thousands of people struggling to rebuild their lives in Houston and the surrounding area after Hurricane Harvey.

Two months after the powerful storm made landfall, the need for basic assistance is still high, especially among Houston’s most vulnerable residents. About 85% of the storm’s victims don’t have flood insurance and hundreds of thousands have been denied FEMA assistance, or are still waiting to receive it.

Thanks to you, they have somewhere to turn.

With your donation, our local nonprofit partners are addressing gaps in services and providing a vital safety net for hurricane survivors in Houston. Because of your donation, they had the resources they needed to respond to urgent and emerging needs on the ground. These heroic first responders have been working around the clock to coordinate emergency relief operations and develop long-term recovery plans, all while juggling their pre-Harvey duties.

Here’s a look at what your donation has made possible:

Hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed by Harvey have a place to live thanks to a rapid re-housing partnership between the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County and Houston landlords. The partnership provides six-month rental coupons for apartment units around the city. The coalition has also furnished more than 300 homes and stocked more than 400 pantries for hurricane survivors thanks to GlobalGiving donors like you.

Since Harvey hit, the Houston Food Bank has been operating at three times its normal capacity. Leveraging an extensive network of partners, including companies and regional hunger relief organizations, the bank set up mini-distribution sites and food delivery services in Harvey-hit neighborhoods. It also extended its hours to accommodate storm-displaced families.

“We go where we’re asked to go, and do what we’re asked to do.” That’s how Tommy Holstien describes BakerRipley, a Houston-based nonprofit that’s been around for more than 100 years. In the difficult days and hours that followed Harvey, the nonprofit set up an emergency shelter that housed more than 7,500 people over 26 days. BakerRipley is still managing a food and supply warehouse for Hurricane Harvey survivors. It’s filled with diapers, sanitary napkins, cleaning supplies, canned food, pet food, and more unused, high-demand items. BakerRipley staff told me they’re now focusing on long-term case management for storm survivors. Approximately 20,000 people are on a waitlist to receive storm-related assistance through BakerRipley.

Harvey unleashed 33 trillion gallons of water on U.S. soil, much of it dumped right over northeast Houston. For weeks, Minden Square apartments in Houston were covered in stagnant, dirty rainwater. The walls of the apartments are now stained with ugly, brown water lines—about knee-high, they’re a reminder of Harvey’s power. All Hands Volunteers are gutting the units, now infested with poisonous mold, at no cost for survivors. This is one of more than 160 home renovation projects that All Hands Volunteers have tackled in Houston since Harvey hit in August, and they have committed to helping Harvey-impacted residents in Houston rebuild over the next two years.

Because of your gift, Houstonians had a warm and safe place to sleep after the storm. Because of your gift, hundreds of families now have an apartment to call their own. They have food in their pantries and hope for the future. Recovering from Harvey will take years, and our partners are so grateful for your support.

Thank you,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team


P.S. To help meet acute needs in Texas, GlobalGiving will match your donation to organizations responding to Hurricane Harvey up to $1,000 at 100% while funds last on #GivingTuesday.

Photo from the Houston Food Bank
Photo from the Houston Food Bank
Cassie Jones coordinates BakerRipley
Cassie Jones coordinates BakerRipley's warehouse
Photo by CDRS
Photo by CDRS

More than 32,000 donors like you have come together to raise more $4.5 million in support relief and recovery efforts in South Texas. Thank you for your generosity! In addition to the immediate relief work many of you funded in the first weeks following the the storm, your donations are now supporting 16 more organizations that are helping Texans navigate the long road to recovery.

In the nearly two months since Harvey made landfall, you have:

  • Provided nutritious food, water, and household supplies. Target Hunger operates in neighborhoods that are "food deserts," so their role in the recovery effort has been a critical one. They have been distributing food, water, essential supplies and information from multiple service sites to their neighbors in need.
  • Helped evacuees get food, clothing, non-food items, and other essential items. The San Antonio Food Bank has been meeting the needs of many evacuees in the wake of the storm. Beyond providing food and essentials, they’re also helping people access food stamps and enroll in other needed public benefit programs. In the medium- and long-term they’ll help evacuees find and train for work. The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent is providing food in eleven counties in Texas which include Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria, and Wharton.
  • Filled empty apartments for people who lost everything. Houston Coalition for the Homeless is helping to place homeless survivors in apartments for six months, and you’re helping furnish their apartments to make them livable. You’re providing 1,000 households with the basic furniture and essential household supplies such as pots and pans, dishes, silverware, glasses, sheets, and blankets that they need to start over.
  • Rescued lost pets and helped care for them while their owners get back on their feet. Many shelters did not allow evacuees to take their animals with them when they fled. Best Friends Animal Society deployed a disaster response team and other experts in animal sheltering, handling, and transport to east Texas. These teams rescued stranded animals, delivered supplies to hard hit shelters, transported displaced shelter pets and support emergency sheltering efforts. Once the initial search and rescue efforts ended, they opened the Pet Reunion Pavilion to provide a safe place for over 500 animals while their people recovered and readied themselves to have pets again.
  • Prepared, packaged, and distributed donated goods. Trusted World has leased a 340,000 square foot warehouse to house all the donated goods arriving for Harvey survivors. But because of the warehouse expenses, volunteers were working with reduced power and on on borrowed forklifts and pallets. Your donations are helping make it possible to run the warehouse more effectively and efficiently to get donations where they’re needed most.
  • Helped homeowners remove dangerous mold and other health hazards from flood-ridden homes. Comprehensive Disaster Response Services managed safety inspectors, mucking teams, and construction crews to manage the health threat and help Texans rebuild their homes and lives. They have been coordinating with medical teams to raise awareness of the dangers of mold and ensure that anyone who is already sick gets the treatment they need. They have also sheltered evacuees who had nowhere to go and are helping farmers recover loss.
  • Supported survivors with trauma counseling. Beyond the initial tragedy and destruction, long-term trauma can have a debilitating effect for a population. Drawing on close to two decades of humanitarian responses and extensive experience after Hurricane Katrina, IsraAID is providing both psychosocial trauma support and debris removal services to reduce and prevent long-term devastation among the affected communities.
  • Met the immediate needs of the most vulnerable women and children. Hurricane Harvey has left many immigrant women and children in dire situations, and has left them open to scams and abuse. Tahirih Justice Center is providing direct monetary assistance for those who don't qualify for federal relief to support lost wages, housing, transportation, medical costs, etc. They are also providing disaster relief resources and information in multiple languages, supporting immigrants whose legal documents may have been lost in the wake of the storm.

My colleague and I are in Houston this week meeting with our partners and seeing  the work you’ve made possible. What questions do you have for the people who are running the recovery operations? What would you like me to share? Send me an email at blake@globalgiving.org with Houston in the subject line and we’ll try to answer all your questions in our next report.

Thank you again for opening your hearts to communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by Trusted World
Photo by Trusted World
Photo by Best Friends Animal Society
Photo by Best Friends Animal Society
Photo by Fuel Relief Fund
Photo by Fuel Relief Fund

Three weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport, Texas as a category 4 storm. People throughout the state lost homes, cars, and power.

Your donation was sent quickly to meet survivors’ immediate needs. The Fuel Relief Fund provided fuel to thousands of people in Texas just days after Harvey made landfall. This fuel was used to power emergency vehicles, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, as well as Texans’ cars so they could leave the area. In Rockport and Port Aransas, where there were no working gas stations after the storm, Fuel Relief Fund gave away nearly 16,000 gallons of gasoline and 1,750 gallons of diesel. In Silsbee, a town severely affected by the floods, they gave away almost 3,500 gallons of gasoline and 300 gallons of diesel.

“Fuel Relief Fund came to our small town during Hurricane Harvey when we were desperate for fuel,” said Staci, who received fuel from the Fund. “Our emergency vehicles needed fuel to take care of our community. We appreciate them more than anyone could ever know. I will forever remember you! Thank you guys for taking time away from your families to take care of our families.”

Fuel was not only necessary for vehicles, but also for many people who solely relied on generators to power their homes. As we’ve seen from the news coming out of Florida this past week, power outages can be dangerous and even deadly after a disaster.

The incredible fuel distribution effort was powered by volunteers who worked tirelessly all day, mostly sleeping in their cars or trucks.  Watch  a short video of their Harvey work here.

Most fuel stations in the affected areas in Texas have now opened and citizens and local first responders are able to get fuel. Fuel Relief Fund has moved on to work in Florida after Hurricane Irma, but the residents of Texas won’t forget your support.

Many of our partners are still hard at work in Texas and starting to think about the medium- and long-term recovery.  Even as the Harvey headlines fade in the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to report on the vital work made possible by your generous donation.

Thank you,

Britt + the GlobalGiving team

Photo by Fuel Relief Fund
Photo by Fuel Relief Fund
Photo by Fuel Relief Fund
Photo by Fuel Relief Fund
 

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