Starkville resident and Southwire employee Larry Moore opens the doors to the Project Gift truck for donations to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts this morning in the Starkville Walmart parking lot. Southwire is among many area organizations collecting aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
August 30, 2017 10:22:34 AM
Relief agencies are seeking mostly monetary donations to help victims in the wake of historic flooding Hurricane Harvey left behind in the Houston, Texas, metro area.
Harvey, which made landfall Friday southwest of Houston near Rockport, Texas, has dumped more than 50 inches of rain -- nearly as much as the Golden Triangle receives in a year -- on south Texas. The storm has killed at least 15 people, and The New York Times reported Wednesday morning that local officials in Texas have said 30 people have died.
Linda Longo, a volunteer with Columbus' Red Cross and member of its Disaster Assessment Team, said money is the most effective aid in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.
"Right now, the most important thing that's needed is dollar donations," Longo said. "The recovery is what's really going to cost people."
Columbus' Red Cross has dispatched a pair of volunteers and an emergency response vehicle to the storm site. They have grouped up with other volunteers from larger Red Cross groups from the Jackson area. Some will go to Houston, she said, while others may go to Louisiana, which Harvey is currently threatening.
Longo said the Columbus Red Cross has seen a swell of local response from people wanting to donate supplies to Harvey's victims. However, she said the Red Cross doesn't have a place locally to store donations. She also said it will be hard to effectively distribute donations like clothing items until the floodwaters recede.
"It's hard because a lot of people, their immediate response is to donate clothing," Longo said. "People in Texas and disaster areas will need clothing, but right now ... it's hard to take a truckload of clothing.
"When the waters goes down, they will take out truckloads of cleaning supplies to see if people need that," she added. "On our (emergency response vehicles) we usually supply bleach, mops, a bucket, brooms, sometimes shovels if we can. It depends on what's been donated to us."
Katie Walker, manager of the Salvation Army's service center in Starkville, said the organization is also seeking monetary donations.
"For the Salvation Army, 100 percent of anything donated will be used for recovery efforts," she said. "Whether it's within the next seven days, or the next 12 months, it's going to be used for the recovery."
Danny Avery, executive director of the United Way of Lowndes County, said people who want to donate to that organization for disaster relief should donate to the United Way of Greater Houston.
"Right now, the largest number of people being impacted are in the greater Houston area," Avery said. "The Greater Houston United Way has set up an online donation site. Certainly, you can give to the United Way with great confidence because every dollar is tracked and you know it goes to where it's intended to go."
Avery said it's crucial for people -- no matter where they are trying to donate -- to be sure they are giving to legitimate relief organizations. He said it's not uncommon for "unscrupulous people" to try to take advantage of people's generosity in the aftermath of national disasters.
He recommended vetting organizations through National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a government-recognized organization that lists reputable organizations that help after disasters.
"It's so vital and so critical," Avery said. "I participated in a seminar for senior citizens because there are always scammers out there. When you're giving to a legitimate, vetted, reputable organization such as the United Way or any agency that's a partner with the United Way, you know they're being audited on a regular basis."
Some area businesses are becoming involved in relief efforts, as well.
Southwire, an electrical wire and cable manufacturer, is collecting donations at the Walmart on Highway 12 in west Starkville.
Rochelle Harris, with the company's human resources department, said the truck will take supplies from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Thursday, and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday.
She said the truck will collect baby items, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, ready-to-eat snack food items, drinks, blankets, paper and similar products.
"It means a lot that we can help somebody during a disaster event like this, because you never know when it's going to happen to you," she said.
The following organizations are accepting Hurricane Harvey relief donations
American Red Cross
PO Box 1959
Atlanta, GA 30301
United Way of Greater Houston
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is a nationally-recognized group of reputable organizations to donate to in disaster aftermaths
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
1. Cannizaro out as MSU baseball coach STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
2. Petition calls for Baptist to reinstate privileges for longtime OBGYN COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Aldermen shoot down Pride parade request STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Defendant sentenced to 40 years for second-degree murder COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Police make attempted kidnapping arrest STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY