Donations needed for flood victims, money may be best

Our Austin organizations say it's important to get those things to where they need to go.

After such a large disaster like Hurricane Harvey, people want to donate.

Many people have been cleaning out their closets, drawers, and homes, hoping to give things to those in need.

But, Austin organizations said it's important to get those items to where they need to go.

"Everybody wants to contribute, but it can be a difficulty if people do that and there's not the coordination and support behind it to organize those supplies," said Stephen Brewer, the Associate Director of the Austin Disaster Relief Network.

He said people should not take donations to shelters, but instead to drop off sites.

"If people have a heart to give, we celebrate that. We encourage them to go to these drop off sites. For us to do that, even if it's dropped off at the shelter, they're calling us saying ‘hey can you come grab this stuff.' So we want to do it. We want to create the space at the shelter for those people to get the care that they need, for the goods to come in, in an already pre sorted way, where these survivors are able to receive those goods in a very clear process," said Brewer.

According to Brewer, they're shipping out a couple hundred pallets a day, and he said organization is key.

"We are scheduling those, so we don't have unanticipated trucks arriving because that's what can be most difficult for these receiving areas, is the unexpected, the unanticipated trucks, and getting an over abundance of supplies," said Brewer.

Because of that, some say donations of money or gift cards can be the best choice.

"Obviously financial contributions are the most important, financial contributions right now help us get resources on the ground, quickly and help us mobilize and help us move resources as quickly as possible wherever the need is great,” said Matthew Teter with Red Cross of Central Texas. "This is going to be one of the most expensive recovery efforts in American history.”

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"When they get a welcome kit it's incredible, but there's some incidentals that just aren't applied and they can't access from a welcome kit, so just a few hundred dollars in gift cards can mean so much to these families who have an overwhelming need," said Brewer. "There's going to be hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars needed to be raised in order to support these families in the way that they need."

"They can be used to fill in, because we may have tons of soap, but if we don't have toothbrushes and toothpaste, you know we need that as well," said Suzanne Faught, who is a volunteer at one of the drop-off locations.

Faught said it has been a constant stream of people dropping off donations.

"The response has been amazing,” said Faught. "There is so much stuff coming in that it's easy to be overwhelming."

She said some of their collected items will go to flood victims in Houston, and others to anyone who needs it locally. 

"There's just so much stuff, and that can be overwhelming, you know they're trying to find warehouse space to put it in temporarily until it can be sorted out," said Faught.

Patrick Georgiou and Heather Huffman dropped off a big donation, saying they just want to help.

"Pillows, blankets, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner,” said Huffman.

"We both have very busy jobs, and we couldn't exactly get down to Houston to spend a lot of time rescuing people from flood waters, so it's the little part that we could do from here,” said Georgiou.

Volunteer Diane Rohrman knows how valuable this stuff can be.
Her home in Onion Creek flooded three years ago.

"It's invaluable because you're basically without the basics of life, at that point,” said Rohrman. "I know how very helpful it was to have people come and help us."

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is collecting donations at 4 different locations. Go here for the list.

Austin Community Foundation is also collecting money.

They sent KVUE this information on Monday.

Austin Community Foundation, Capital Factory, Entrepreneurs Foundation, MFI Foundation, and United Way for Greater Austin have teamed up to coordinate the efforts of the Central Texas philanthropic community. Through the Central Texas Long-Term Hurricane Recovery Fund, we are committed to supporting affected communities on the long journey ahead.  In the coming months, we will work with agency partners on the ground to identify the areas of greatest need.

Members of our local philanthropic community have come together with an initial match of $200,000, increasing the impact we can make together. All donations to the Fund will be deployed over the next several years through strategic grants supporting long-term recovery efforts. Preference will be shown to organizations working in under resourced communities.

Folks can donate following this link: austincf.org/recovery or they can simply go to our website (austincf.org), where it's easily accessible on our homepage.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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