*(Via Mic Network) / Gale-force winds and torrential rains pummeled Houston over the weekend as Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night, resulting in five lives lost and at least 2,000 emergency rescues.
The category 4 hurricane, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm, dropped 20 inches of rain in the region — and the governors of Louisiana and Texas have warned of more rain and potential destruction before the storm ends.
The flooding and devastation is prompting Americans to search for ways to donate money, food, water and more. It makes sense to want to help out, no matter where you live. But how can you ensure your contribution actually goes toward assisting hurricane victims — and is maximally useful?
One important step, according to Daniel Borochoff, president and founder of charity watchdog organization, Charity Watch, is to give to a reputable charity that will use your dollars or donated items toward the recovery effort.
Some other things to take into account:
- Where and how to give: Your contribution can be most effective when you give according to the charities’ needs. Currently, charities like Save the Children and Catholic Charities USA need financial donations, while others like the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center need blood donations.
- Check the charity’s credibility rating before you donate: Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals or groups may take advantage of a crisis by creating a fake charity or misrepresenting their efforts, Borochoff warned.
- Don’t forget about communities in crisis: “Those in the hardest-hit areas may not have the financial means to evacuate or don’t have enough supplies,” Borochoff said. This includes homeless or immigrant communities who are the most vulnerable to falling victim during a crisis and could fall through the cracks, he added.