Thirty percent of Harris County is flooded as a result of Hurricane Harvey with more than 50 inches of rain accumulating in some parts of Houston. Rainfall is expected through Friday, even while the storm has moved East toward Louisiana. There have been hundreds of thousands of Houston residents under evacuation orders, more than 30,000 people in temporary shelters, and at least 30 confirmed deaths, including that of Police Sergeant Steve Perez. Simultaneously, thousands have died with more than 40 million affected by monsoon related flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh according to the United Nations, exposing catastrophic need.
Houston remains in rescue mode, with assessment and recovery to follow in the weeks, months and, inevitably, years to follow. FEMA has already green-lit more than $23.5 million in emergency assistance to support people affected by the deadly Hurricane, and has already approved 45,000 applications to cover rental costs, home repairs, and uninsured expenses.
Amidst the disaster, Houston shelters quickly reached maximum capacity. The Red Cross prepared the George R. Brown Convention Center for 5,000 evacuees, although the numbers seeking relief quickly doubled capacity. The nearby Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets, opened up its doors to receive those that Brown could not accommodate. Celebrity Pastor Joel Osteen received heavy criticism after initially keeping the doors to his 16,800 mega-church closed amid the urgent need for shelter; he has since opened the doors to flood survivors, after citing concern of the safety of the building which had also been flooded in some areas. It’s a community effort as community members each do what they can to support their neighbors, like Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who opened his 160,000 square foot furniture warehouse to hundreds of flood victims and used the delivery trucks to make rescues across town.
Amid heightened Islamophobia, Houston’s diverse Muslim population is organizing to support their fellow Texans too, with more than a dozen mosques having opened their doors to flood victims seeking dry shelter, food, and support. More mosques are preparing to open their doors as they become accessible. The Islamic Society of Greater Houston is partnering with Baitulmaal, who has previous experience in disaster relief, for additional food, water, and hygiene products. Muslim restaurant owners are staying open late to feed flood survivors seeking shelter at local convention centers, and other make-shift shelters. Ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha celebration, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is urging Muslims to donate the equivalent of their Eid sacrifice to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts providing a list of Islamic Relief organizations here.
Amid heightened Islamophobia, Houston’s diverse Muslim population is organizing to support their fellow Texans too, with more than a dozen mosques having opened their doors to flood victims seeking dry shelter, food, and support.
Colorlines has compiled a thorough list of organizations that support communities of color, immigrant communities, and other particularly vulnerable communities, like Houston’s over 600,000 undocumented residents, citing previous fiscal inefficiencies of the Red Cross as a primary need for having alternatives to donate to. The list includes ICNA Relief: Muslims for Humanity.
With so many organizations to donate to, a key factor in supporting folx on the ground is supporting organizations who actually work with communities on the ground throughout the year, and not just when disaster strikes. Regardless of who you donate too, remember to give responsibly, and prioritize monetary donations whenever possible, according to FEMA, USAID, The Center for International Disaster Information, and GiveWell.
A large list of shelters, including contact information and map can be found here.