The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during a disaster.
Even as Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, the people of Texas are still reeling from the devastating effects of the massive weather system.
Mainers are always quick to rush to the aid of their neighbors, and many are looking for ways to help their fellow Americans in Texas.
The most effective way to support disaster survivors is to donate money and time to reputable charitable organizations.
Emergency agencies are requesting that people do not donate unsolicited goods, such as used clothing, household items, medicine or perishable food. When such items are donated, agencies must find the staff and resources to sort, transport, warehouse and distribute items, which may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Cash donations give agencies the most flexibility to address urgent needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain much-needed resources closest to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also puts money back into the local economy, which helps local businesses recover faster.
Mainers should only donate to reputable organizations, such as the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, and always be cautious of scams that may surface during this disaster. If you are unfamiliar with an agency that is contacting you for a donation, do not donate to that organization.
Do not give your personal financial information to anyone over the phone if you aren’t certain who you are speaking with.
Those wishing to volunteer should also work through reputable organizations, since the influx of volunteers needs to be a coordinated effort. Do not head to the disaster area without first contacting a volunteer organization to determine if and where they need you. Donations of blood are also needed. Contact your local Red Cross for more information.
The Maine Emergency Management Agency is monitoring the situation in Texas. MEMA is also getting regular updates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
They expect requests for assistance to continue for months as the people of Texas recover from this catastrophic storm.
Ann and I send our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with the survivors of this disaster.