As people are watching the pictures coming out of Texas of the devastating flooding, it harks back to 12 years ago when similar pictures came out of New Orleans and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What are the lessons that were learned from Katrina that could help in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, especially when it comes to helping the most vulnerable populations?
Lori Peek, Director of CU Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center, is the co-author of the award-winning book Children of Katrina . She studies vulnerable populations in disaster-stricken regions as well as post-disaster recovery.
“We often have check lists to ask community leaders “where are your elderly persons living who may be frail? Where are your medically dependent populations who may require power for example, to keep their medical devices going? Where are your children, and especially your youngest children, infants who may need complete protection in order to survive disaster?””
Peek says that there are many different populations that can be especially vulnerable in natural disasters.
“Women oftentimes are vulnerable in disasters. In the post-disaster period we often times see an increase in domestic violence. Men are sometimes vulnerable in the disaster itself because men are oftentimes more likely to be outside and find themselves in harms way. Racial and ethnic minorities across this nation are more likely to live in housing that is less secure, so housing that may be located in the flood plain or may be in un-reinforced masonry building in an earthquake zone, so when we talk about vulnerable populations, there’s nothing about being elderly that makes you vulnerable, or being African-American, or being a child, it’s how those categories interact with resource availability and social networks, social connections, access to power and so forth that all interact and oftentimes render certain people in our society more vulnerable.”
Image: Wikimedia, public domain
Here is a list of organizations that are helping people impacted by the flooding in Texas.
The Texas Diaper Bank, which is based out of San Antonio, is putting together relief kit for families with very small children who need access to clean diapers in the midst of flooding and evacuations.
The Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi is accepting financial donations.
The SPCA of Texas is taking in hundreds of animals transferred from shelters on the coast who aren’t safe where they are right now. You can donate to the organization to help defray the costs—or you can open your home and foster a displaced animal until it can be reunited with its owner.
People withe Medical Needs
Portlight provides inclusive relief to people with disabilities and works to ensure that people who require medical equipment and assistive technology have what they need after they evacuate, and to make sure that those same folks are able to get to safety. They accept donations via PayPal.
Direct Relief USA offers prescription drugs and other medical supplies to those who need it in emergency situations, and works with clinics and primary care doctors to ensure that people are able to get what they need when they need it. They’re accepting financial contributions.
Houston Food Bank
Galveston Food Bank
Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)
Corpus Christi Food Bank
Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)
Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)
Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)
Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)
San Antonio Food Bank
The Houston Coalition for the Homeless is facilitating shelter for homeless people in Houston, including offering up-to-date information about which shelters currently have space, who’s the best fit for each one, and how to get there safely. They’re accepting financial donations to continue their work.
In Dallas, Trusted World is operating three shelters for evacuees. They need donations, supplies (clean clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, diapers, and baby formula.)
Global Giving is trying to raise $2 million to help those affected by the storm. The organization provides food, gas, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter in the short-term, and then funnels the remaining resources to local organizations to facilitate long-term recovery.