In support of the response and recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is advising Hoosiers to be organized in their giving and volunteer efforts.
When a natural disaster occurs, many social networking sites may promote impromptu collection drives. This can lead to scams or semis with unrequested items that threaten to crowd warehouses and clog distribution channels in the impacted area.
A recommended way to help disaster survivors is with a cash donation to a legitimate relief agency operating in the area. The type and amount of items required can change hourly as needs keep pace with the rapidly evolving emergency situation. Cash is far more flexible than goods and allows volunteer agencies to more quickly acquire the supplies needed to address the most urgent needs.
Giving money to be used locally also helps local businesses during economically stressful times.
If goods are donated, pay attention to requests that are coming from affected areas, and send only clean, good quality items.
Volunteers play a vital part in disaster recovery, however, well-meaning individuals who simply show up to help without prior contact or coordination with disaster management personnel can further complicate or even hinder response and recovery operations already underway. Before heading for impacted areas, would-be volunteers need to have a plan.
Following some simple guidelines can make all the difference in revitalizing the areas hit by a disaster.
- Do not just show up to the disaster area. Reach out and contact a volunteer organization.
- Each individual or group should inform volunteer organizations of any specific skills or services that can be offered.
- Make sure to plan for needed supplies. Do not assume that resources are available at the site. These should include: appropriate clothing, food and water, shelter/a place to stay.
Work with Legitimate Relief Agencies
IDHS encourages working with well-known relief and philanthropic organizations when donating money or goods. Hoosiers who would like to support different organizations are encouraged to research the organization before providing any monetary donations. For more information on responsibly providing assistance, or to find information on major non-profits active in disaster recovery, visit https://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit GetPrepared.in.gov.
SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Homeland Security