No sooner had Harvey made landfall than the recriminations began. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner was targeted for not ordering mandatory evacuations. Joel Osteen was pilloried for supposedly not opening his church to hurricane victims. Meanwhile Harvey, indifferent, continued its path of destruction on the Texas and Louisiana coasts.
Now is not the time for arguing, analyzing, and accusing. Now is the time for action. Jesse Kelly’s impassioned August 29 plea in The Federalist cuts right to the chase: the victims of Harvey need your money, they need lots of it, and they will need it for a very long time.
Unfortunately, along with those mounting good faith efforts to collect funds for people in need, there are charlatans who will try to take advantage of the situation by tricking well-meaning souls out of their hard-earned dollars. The Federal Trade Commission has advice on how to give wisely in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and other disasters. If you want to help, it is imperative to make sure your help gets where you want it to go.
While disasters bring out the worst in some people, they bring out the absolute best in the vast majority of us. The photos coming out of Texas tell that story in a way words cannot.
This is why it is ridiculous to waste time throwing stones right now. Does anyone truly believe that Sylvester Turner and Joel Osteen don’t want to help the city of Houston? Crisis situations test people in ways they can’t possibly predict. The decision-making is difficult beyond what those of us who are not there can imagine. Second-guessing doesn’t help, at least not right now. We need to put the best construction on other people’s efforts and turn our attention to our own.
Here are a few things those of us who are not there can do to help right now:
- Publicize the situation. Share pictures, stories, and giving opportunities (from reputable sources) on your social media. Add a custom badge to your profile pic that draws attention to the situation and encourages people to help.
- If you get involved in a relief effort, make sure it’s well-informed and organized. Loading up a
truck and driving to the disaster area, however well-intentioned, may not be what is needed,
and may result in a lot of wasted time and piles of unused stuff.
- Instead, plug into the efforts of your church, school, or other community organization. My church body, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, helped build 6,000 homes in the aftermath of Katrina. They have kicked back into action again in a big way, mounting fundraising and volunteer efforts, beginning work on a school-to-school support network, and sending a team to the flooded areas to share Christ’s mercy and discover other ways to help. The best long-term way to get involved is usually not on your own but by joining a team of like-minded friends. They are out there. Go find yours.
- Give now, and give in the future. In addition to the organizations mentioned in Jesse Kelly’s article above, Christianity Today recommends several more, as do Forbes and Fortune and others. Consult your local news outlets for additional ideas to donate and volunteer.
- Pray unceasingly. Pray for those affected, and pray for those who are trying to help, that their efforts might be brought to fruition.
It has been noted by multiple observers that as horrible as the effects of Harvey are, one good outcome is a unity of purpose and spirit that has been sorely lacking in the U.S. in recent months. May that unity continue through the coming months and years of Harvey recovery and beyond.
We’re in this together, America. Let’s roll.