The images of desperate rescues and flooded neighborhoods prompt many of us to ask, “How can we help?” ICMA reached out to Texas City Management Association (TCMA) President David Harris to ask for his advice. He told us that TCMA has sent out a survey to communities affected by the disaster as well as to managers in the state that can offer help. Coordinating disaster recovery efforts is an important part of the process to ensure that communities get the help they need.
One way that members can get help to disaster survivors now is to donate to a trusted organization. The Texas Municipal League posted this on its Twitter feed for disaster relief.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has publicized a list of vetted disaster relief organizations providing services to survivors from the Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD). National level organizations can be found at National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).
Should you wish to volunteer, you need to register with a voluntary or charitable organization, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground. The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community- and faith-based organizations working in the field.
The state of Texas is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear, and valid identification.
There will be long-term recovery needs and ICMA will be alert to opportunities where members can assist, coordinating closely with TCMA and the Texas Municipal League.