I’m OK. Here are Ways to Help! [Hurricane Harvey]

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It’s been a while since I wrote about a personal topic on Tip Junkie as I’m more comfortable featuring other women than spotlight myself.  However, Hurricane Harvey, and Irma have not only been the most devastating natural disasters in our Country but it’s been personal to me as I live just outside of Houston.  Thankfully, my home is fine and didn’t flood or have any damage however only 4 miles away is another story.  The past few weeks have definitely not all been wonderful but the outpouring of love and service has been inspiring.
hurricane harvey flooding in texas
My brother Barry took this picture as he was helping his friend evacuate for Hurricane Harvey
I am so thankful for the outpouring of support I’ve received from my readers and from the community. We can learn so much from each other! We can lift each other up, and help in so many ways. We can make a difference!
hurricane-harvey-aftermath
This is what my Mom’s neighborhood looks like now.

What Is It Like Now?

I’m sure you’ve all seen images of Houston freeways buckled, homes submerged, streets filled with water. People homeless. This is reality for so many residents of Houston and the outlying cities.
Bettys-Kitchen-after-Hurricane-Harvey-1
My In-Law’s home crested at 8 feet of water.  This was her kitchen.
My immediate family was fortunate. We didn’t experience flooding to our home, but just 4 miles away they did. We’ve united with the “Houston Strong” mantra to pull together and do what’s required.  Many have lost their cars and all of their belongings along with their homes like my Mother and Father-in-Law.
empty-shelves
In the days right after the Hurricane the shelves in stores were empty. Gas could not be gotten. There were lines hours long to get basic supplies. A week later we were able to get and food.  Two weeks later we were able to drive around the city, volunteers were organizing, and the work began.
hurricane-harvey-waiting-in-lines
Volunteers were out serving in record numbers and the city was mobilizing on every level.  This line to make mucking kits for volunteers was an hour long. It seemed like every organization big or small was doing whatever they could think of to help.  From the high school band, school organizations, city programs, and churches.  Strangers were coming together for one untied purpose. It was remarkable to see and overwhelming to participate.
hurricane harvey helping hands

It’s Clean Up Time

Everyone has something that they can do! My men have been mucking out and gutting homes. The mucking out and gutting is hard work. It’s depressing work, yet my boys and husband come home after hours of back breaking labor in good spirits because they have spent their time helping others. Mucking out and gutting homes involves removing mud and muck. Pulling up carpet. Tearing out drywall…..removing ruined furniture, fixtures, appliances, pulling out protruding nails. You get the picture.
I’ve been able to use my garage as a hub for clothing and furniture donations for those in need and help salvage keepsakes or momentos for others.  Now that everyone has a place to live and is getting settled, realities of a new normal is sinking in.

This was my view when I went to help salvage momentos from a church members home. The smell wasn’t too bad as the house only got 2 feet of water and only sat in it for 9 days. Anything paper or fabric was drenched even if it was high on a shelf due to the humidity. Even though I had been living through the devastation of Hurricane Harvey for days, it was hard to control my emotions and not completely break down seeing what once was a home ~ now look like a house that had been left derelict for a decade.

I tried to keep thinking “what would I want someone to do if this was me”, and it changed me and made me a better person. We packed sheet music, toys, photo albums, electronics, and her kitchen. When we were done, less than 6 bins held the belongings of this family. 6 bins.
The devastation is real.
The sadness and loss is palpable.
I’ve learned something extremely important during this time though: the human spirit won’t stay down. Sometimes it’s too heavy to cry ~ and so we laugh. In between the tears are bouts of giggles as we try to lighten the load by looking on the bright side of everything a homemaker dreams of…new flooring, new kitchen cabinets, and a new couch.  It’s easy to talk about that when the dollar signs aren’t yet glaring at you. But it was a short break from the doom and gloom and remember we’re girly girls.
I’ve drawn on this families perspective many, many times since then. This is the positive power of banding together.
volunteers
Amy Locurto’s neighbor from Dallas brought supplies and their boat to help families in flooded areas.

How Can I Help?

People are asking how they can help. Immediately we needed rain boots, trash bags, gloves, and masks as they are mandatory in a clean up. After Hurricane Irma, they are going to need them, too. They are in limited supply. Disease is a real possibility as sewage was in this water for over a week and in many places two weeks.

Donate Blood

Donate Accomodations

Help the Animals

Volunteer

To be honest, what’s really needed is cash. Find a trusted source to donate funds. People still have to pay their mortgage and pay for first and last months rent, pay the car payments on flooded cars and now buy or lease new ones, pay for storage, and completely start over. As much as we appreciate water, food and clothing… there’s limited space to store it and that’s not on the list.
If you’ll pardon a moment of blunt honesty.  {standing on soap box}  It may feel like a cop-out or too easy… but please donate cash. That is what’s truly needed.  These are successful families that had built an amazing and beautiful life that are starting completely over and are emotionally exhausted.  They have quite literally been dragged through the sewage filled mud and receiving old and worn-out goods is depressing.  As a volunteer I have had to sift through boxes of disgusting stuff which can’t be used thus completely wasting time better spent elsewhere.  Please, please, please only donate clean, usable goods.  {off soap box}  Thank you.  {wink}
Currently we are collecting furniture, bedding, towels, and housewares like pots and pans.  One family came to the boutique in my garage to gather needed supplies and one of her kids asked if I had silverware.  The mother teared up when she realized she didn’t something so basic as utensils.  Heartbreaking doesn’t describe it.
There are so may ways to serve, do whatever works best for you and your family. If you pray, prayers make a difference. I believe this.  I’m thankful for you and your thoughts and prayers. Keep ’em coming! As we all know, there are so many all over the world that need our prayer and help!

P.S.  Join the conversations over on the Tip Junkie Facebook page.  It’s a great place to ask questions on how to make things or for specific tutorials you need.

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Here are Ways to Help People in Need! [Hurricane Harvey]

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