HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Volunteers get a briefing at the George Brown Convention Center that has been turned into a shelter run by the American Red Cross to house victims of the high water from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Thousands of people and animals have been displaced from catastrophic flooding in Houston and other communities in the region. Hundreds of homes are underwater and many have been completely destroyed. The disaster isn’t over yet. It’s really just beginning as people in some communities return to what’s left of their homes.
1. Verify the trustworthiness of soliciting relief organizations by visiting Give.org to access free reports that specify if the charity meets the 20 Better Business Bureau Standards of Charity Accountability.
2. See if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the affected areas.
3. Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
4. Be cautious about gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.
5. Understand crowdfunding. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.
6. Phases of disaster relief. Remember that every disaster has several phases – rescue, emergency relief and recovery. Each part relies on public support and continuing funding for success.
7. Recovery time line. For many communities, recovery will be a long-term activity that can take many months or years to accomplish.
8. Disaster planning. Areas that work toward recovery will probably also need to develop plans to better respond to a similar storm in the future.
The following is a list of Better Business Bureau accredited charities raising funds for the Hurricane Harvey relief:
Donors can evaluate a charity’s finances and record of accountability and transparency through the website Charity Navigator.
Consumers can report suspected scams to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker, the Texas attorney general’s hotline at 800-621-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.