Flooding. 13,000 rescues. Fifty people (to date) have lost their lives. The tragedy that Hurricane Harvey has wrought–and now Irma–is weighing heavily on our hearts and minds.
Watching the destruction and human suffering from miles away is difficult, and the goodness in our hearts compels us to want to help immediately. Habitat for Humanity has had a lot of experience with addressing the impact on people and housing from natural disasters that have struck around the world. That experience has taught us that taking action immediately is critical; in addition, a coordinated, planned approach is essential to effectively offering relief for those people who are impacted.
As hard as it is, some of the donations or acts of kindness that we eagerly want to donate must wait. Houston and the surrounding effective areas from Hurricane Harvey are not yet ready to accept many of the goods that we may wish to send. Case in point, in the early aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, lumber was donated and delivered to a warehouse in Louisiana for the purpose of rebuilding homes. Unfortunately, because of the long wait for flood waters to recede and the haste in which the lumber was given, the wood was rendered mostly unusable. It simply does not store well.
Many of our peer organizations that serve low-income households, such as United Way, have made this additional point: nonprofit service providers often have the relationships and resources to secure donations of higher quality goods the nonprofit can obtain in new condition with a trusted safety and performance standard. It is better to wait for word from trusted nonprofits or area representatives on the specific items needed and how they can be processed quickly.
Outside of donated goods, there is also donated time. While many good Samaritans wish to roll up their sleeves and help on site, sometimes driving hundreds of miles to donate their energy and time, too many well-wishers can overwhelm the area. On a practical level, where can additional people stay in a ravaged area?
Then there is the “long haul.” We can’t lose sight of the rebuild that will be desperately needed following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. This will be an exhausting and extensive process. Look at the Carolina Coast after Hurricane Matthew in 2016; many homes are still under repairs and some families have not yet been able to return to their homes. Habitat for Humanity has been working steadily over time to help rebuild the area. It’s a long, slow, and often invisible process to the public, but crucial to longterm recovery.
See Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, here, explaining the phases of disaster response on a recent appearance on CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/08/29/habitat-for-humanity-ceo-three-phases-of-disaster-relief-and-recovery.html
Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity encourages you contribute money because it will be used in a timely and strategic way to address the effort. LNP put out this article following Hurricane Harvey: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/outpouring-of-love-here-s-how-you-can-help-people/article_08773494-8c2e-11e7-8e5e-a737563970c1.html It lists several charities that are or will be working to provide relief and rebuild the Greater Houston area. Please be sure to clearly identify that you want your money used for Hurricane Harvey or Irma relief.
Additionally, you can send disaster response donations to Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for help with the long term recovery of areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey or Irma, or donate to Habitat International. Visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/lancasterlebanonhabitat or https://www.habitat.org/donate/?link=858&keyword=hero–home
Lancaster Lebanon Habitat will be ready when the call comes to lend a hand in rebuilding those areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and bringing people home. Please continue to pray for the health and well-being of all those affected in Texas and Louisiana, and please consider a financial gift to your favorite organization.