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The best ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey

As floodwater from Hurricane Harvey begins to recede, officials are concerned the death toll will continue to rise. At least 40 people have lost their lives and thousands have been displaced.

Texas governor Greg Abbott said that there are more than 32,000 people in shelters across the state. Some residences will retain water for weeks, and evacuees are preparing for a long period of recovery.

For all of those people who want to support the victims of the hurricane, it is difficult to know the best way to help.

Bob Ottenhoff is the president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. He explained that it is best to send money, not items, to help with the disaster relief.

Ottenhoff told NPR,”This is not the time to be donating products or even services…With the floods blocking off streets, when warehouses are not available, there’s no place for these products — there’s no place to store anything, there’s no place to distribute anything. And that’s going to be the case for some time.”

Ottenhoff suggested that people should send money now for immediate relief, but also save some of their donation to send later for rebuilding efforts. He said that “this is often the part of a disaster that doesn’t get media attention and therefore doesn’t get donor support.”

Experts advise to find a trusted organization to avoid scams and ensure your money is going directly to the hurricane victims. Susan Koranda is an advisory board member for the Chicago Salvation Army who also volunteers for the Red Cross.

Koranda told the Naperville Sun that even though donating to organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army “sounds a little cold and impersonal,” it is actually the best way to help. She said that this “allows local organizations to do what they do best.”

Donations to the Salvation Army can be made on their website. The American Red Cross also accepts donations online or you can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner set up the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund after receiving an overwhelming amount of inquiries from people wanting to help. GoFundMe has posted all of its Hurricane Harvey-related campaigns on a single website for easy access.

Direct Relief is shipping medical supplies to victims, and Americares is on the ground in Texas distributing water, medical aid, and basic supplies.

For those who live in the Texas area or simply prefer to send items, the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off or sent through the mail. Houston Food Bank and Food Bank of Corpus Christi are also asking for donations.

There are plenty of ways to support the animals who are hurricane victims as well.

The SPCA of Texas has evacuated pets, including 123 cats from a shelter in Corpus Christi. Austin Pets Alive! has also taken in hundreds of animals. This organization has ran out of storage space for donated supplies, so cash donations are encouraged. In addition, they are seeking people to adopt pets.

A complete list of trusted organizations that are helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey can be found at the Hurricane Harvey: Charity Navigator website.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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