5 minute readDisaster

Your Top Questions Concerning Our Hurricane Harvey Response

August 26, 2017. Victoria , Texas. Photo by Daniel Cima for The American Red Cross

This post was updated on Sept. 22, 2017

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, we have seen an outpouring of generosity and support. We can’t thank you enough. We know you have questions, and we’re here to answer them. Disasters by their very definition can be chaotic. We hope you’ll help us share this information far and wide to get as much help to the people affected by this disaster in Texas and Louisiana.

  1. Update: Red Cross Financial Assistance for Hurricane Harvey Thanks to our generous donors, the American Red Cross will be providing financial assistance to Texas households that were severely impacted by Harvey and need help taking care of emergency needs. Right now, we are in the initial stages of this effort and are focusing on helping people in emergency shelters. We are experiencing an exceedingly high demand, and ask that people please be patient. Registration, available at Redcross.org/HHIA, will be open for 30 days. In the meantime, please note that assistance will be available for those significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey, which includes:
    · Primary residence was severely impacted by Harvey.
    · Household is in need of emergency assistance.
    · Household was displaced by the impact of Harvey.
    · Verifiable pre-disaster primary address in one of these 39 Texas counties Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzalez, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller and Wharton.The Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and people do not need to be American citizens to receive our assistance.
  2. Volunteering

    Guys, we’re going to need each and every one of you to support our mission on this operation. Please know that we are working tirelessly to process all of the volunteer requests that we’re getting. We apologize for any delay or confusion. We’re so excited that you signed up, stepped up and want to help our fellow Americans. Our volunteer services teams have seen an overwhelming number of volunteers come out to serve. This is wonderful, and we are still trying to organize our now very large workforce. When you apply, we can see your record in our system, and a member of the volunteer services team will reach out just as soon as possible and can give you the most accurate and updated information.

  3. In-Kind Item Donations

    The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle small numbers of item donations because our focus areas are in providing shelter, food and other immediate relief to victims. For this reason, we rely on our partners to help with coordinating drop-offs, sorting and distributing items donated. We would encourage anyone wanting to donate clothing or other supplies to  reach out to community partner organizations that have stepped up to handle that immense and important task. The Texas Tribune offers a list of options.

  4. Text Donations

    If you are experiencing a delay with text donations, please know we are working to resolve this as soon as possible. Due to overwhelming response, you may wait up to 24 hours before being able to process your donation. Here’s what you can expect: you will receive a messaging asking whether you’d like to join the queue, or just donate directly on Redcross.org/harvey.

  5. Pets

    Pets are family, too, and we love your furry friends. We often can’t take pets in our shelters because of the safety of all residents. For this, we rely on community partners to help shelter pets while we shelter people. If you have a service animal, they are welcome. Please coordinate with shelter staff to let them know when you arrive. Check out how we’re coordinating efforts to make sure animals have a safe space, too:

    Dallas: Pets are being handled by the SPCA through Dallas Animal Services.

    Austin: Pet shelter is located at the Met Center, 7000 Metropolis Drive, Austin, TX.

    San Antonio: San Antonio is accepting pet evacuees at Kazen Middle School, 1520 Gillette Blvd, San Antonio, TX  78224.

    Houston: There are many shelters in Houston. Some have the capacity to accept pets and some do not. Please check this list to see where pets will be welcomed.

  6. Did the Red Cross throw out dog food?

    There has been no directive given at any of our operations to discard or dispose of any new donated items such as canned food, water, diapers, blankets or dog food. Snopes also looked into this– you can read more here.

  7. I heard a story about 400 hamburgers…

    So did we. We have looked into what happened and want to address it directly. The safety of the people we serve is our first and utmost priority. Our volunteers and workers on the ground may not be perfect, but they are all working with the best of intentions and to the best of their ability.Please know that if a volunteer or volunteers steps into a situation, they are not trying to overshadow the generosity or compassion of spontaneous assistance being offered but doing so based on training and past experience with that goal–the evacuees safety–in mind not with an intention to “take charge” or in any way diminish those kind efforts.With donations like food especially, we have policies and procedures in place solely to protect the health of those who may already be in a weakened or vulnerable health state. Even properly prepared food, if not clearly monitored, can quickly go bad through no fault of those who prepared or are serving it–which could make a bad situation worse.With all that in mind, we have spoken with the Deputy Director of our operation and the volunteers on the scene. Again, while they may have appeared overzealous, they intervened out of a desire to protect those impacted by Harvey, with their health and well-being in mind. Eventually they assisted in handing out the burgers. These are extremely challenging and often life threatening situations–everybody is trying to meet all needs, while being cut off from the floods.We greatly appreciate not just our volunteers but ALL volunteers and the generous support of the public. We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures, learning to adapt–because each disaster is different–and learning from experiences. It is our hope you’ll understand that we’re all trying to do the right thing. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
  8. I saw a pretty grim picture claiming you served this meal to disaster victims…
    This one? This meal was not served by the Red Cross. This is actually a picture of a school lunch in Oklahoma from 2016.
  9. How much money is actually going to go to Hurricane Harvey victims and what is it being used for? Donations we receive for Red Cross Disaster Relief are put to excellent use, and we are proud to be good stewards of donor dollars, every day and for every response.91 cents of every dollar we receive for Hurricane Harvey will be spent to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Any donation, large or small, will help. For example, $2.50 can provide a comfort kit containing personal hygiene items, like shampoo, conditioner, soap, a razor, toothbrush and toothpaste, for someone in a disaster. $5 can cover the cost of a blanket, and $10 the cost of a hot meal. A $50 donation can provide a full day of food and shelter for one person, including three meals, a cot, two blankets, and a comfort kit as well as the costs to support the Red Cross workers providing this service. For $200, someone’s donation can cover the cost of providing a full day of food and shelter to a family of four. Money may also be used for replacing medications, new eyeglasses, wheelchairs, clean up supplies and a whole host of other things.
  10. I saw a video from a woman claiming that the Red Cross was stealing donations from churches – and something about an Obama-era executive order? This is most definitely not an accurate claim. We even asked the video’s creator Ms. Nelms to share any details, locations of these churches, or names of anyone involved in her assertion — and she failed to do so. You can read the Snopes.com investigation here.

For other questions about the best ways to help after a disaster, see our tips for smart giving.

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  1. Please confirm that text donations sent to HARVEY will be dedicated only to relief and recovery directly related to Harvey?

  2. Hi SD – Rest assured, the Red Cross honors donor intent. You can designate your donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org or on 1-800-RED-CROSS. Thank you for asking, and we appreciate your support during this difficult time.

  3. Tried to text my donation

    “Sorry, this service is not available for your service plan.”

    Please fix this..

  4. Have clothing, toys, some house hold items’ I want to donate. I live in zip code 77069. 1960 & Champions area. Where can I drop these items at?

  5. Hi Patti – Thanks for wanting to help out! Right now, our primary focus is providing emergency shelter and safety to evacuees. For this reason, we need all available shelter space for the residents. The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle item donations because our focus areas are in providing shelter, food and other immediate relief to victims. For this reason, we rely on our partners to help with coordinating drop-offs, sorting and distributing items donated. We would encourage anyone wanting to donate clothing or other supplies to reach out to community partner organizations that have stepped up to handle that immense and important task. The Texas Tribune offers a list of options. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-relief-efforts-how-help/?fref=gc

  6. Anyone know a place or where I can go to give donations for hurricane Harvey victim I live in Minneapolis Minnesota .

  7. Hi Ingrid – Thank you for your willingness to help! Right now, our primary focus is providing emergency shelter and safety to evacuees. For this reason, we need all available shelter space for the residents. The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle small numbers of item donations because our focus areas are in providing shelter, food and other immediate relief to victims. For this reason, we rely on our partners to help with coordinating drop-offs, sorting and distributing items donated. We would encourage anyone wanting to donate clothing or other supplies to reach out to community partner organizations that have stepped up to handle that immense and important task. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-relief-efforts-how-help/?fref=gc

  8. We are trying to locate a family member in the Houston area. How do we proceed?

  9. Hi Awilda, please visit safeandwell.org. We are asking all evacuees to register with Safe and Well when they come into shelters. I hope you find your family member!

  10. Is there a program to help take in family’s that have been displaced by the hurricane ? And or their pets?

  11. Hi Mari – We truly appreciate your kind offer to share your home with a disaster survivor. The American Red Cross is unable to provide referrals to someone’s private home, however we do appreciate your thoughtfulness. We are working with partners to rescue pets. Here is some information:

    Dallas: Pets are being handled by the SPCA through Dallas Animal Services.
    Austin: Pet shelter is co-located at the Austin Evacuation Center, Wilhelmina Delco Center, 4601 Pecan Brook Dr, Austin, TX 78724
    San Antonio: San Antonio is accepting pet evacuees and human evacuees at 200 Gembler Road, San Antonio tx, 78219
    Houston: There are many shelters in Houston. Some have the capacity to accept pets and some do not. Please check this list to see where pets will be welcomed.

  12. I am in Michigan and would like to orchestrate a community relief campaign within our local school District to collect goods (non perishable food items, clothing, etc). The only problem is, we cannot collect money and Im not sure how to go about securing an organization to deliver the collected items to Texas. Please advise …

  13. Hi Nicole – Thank you for wanting to help out! Right now, our primary focus is providing emergency shelter and safety to evacuees. For this reason, we need all available shelter space for the residents. The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle item donations because our focus areas are in providing shelter, food and other immediate relief to victims. For this reason, we rely on our partners to help with coordinating drop-offs, sorting and distributing items donated. We would encourage anyone wanting to donate clothing or other supplies to reach out to community partner organizations that have stepped up to handle that immense and important task. The Texas Tribune offers a list of options. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-relief-efforts-how-help/?fref=gc

  14. Please change your typeface. The San serif face you are using comes across almost grey! It is tiring to read.

    Les Greenberg
    Les.greenberg@redcross.org

    40 years in publishing
    Still teaching publishing for the federal government

  15. I have many many bags of clothes that I can donate from Women’s to boys and girls items. Just need a place to send them/address.

  16. Hi Jessica – Right now, our primary focus is providing emergency shelter and safety to evacuees. For this reason, we need all available shelter space for the residents. The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle item donations because our focus areas are in providing shelter, food and other immediate relief to victims. For this reason, we rely on our partners to help with coordinating drop-offs, sorting and distributing items donated. We would encourage anyone wanting to donate clothing or other supplies to reach out to community partner organizations that have stepped up to handle that immense and important task. The Texas Tribune offers a list of options. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-relief-efforts-how-help/?fref=gc

  17. I don’t see the list for in kind donation partners. We would like to drop off blankets and towels that are needed for the shelters, but obviously cannot get to those shelters to do so. Looking for drop off locations in our area of town. near the 77077 zip code area.
    thank you.

  18. What about clean up supplies? Do we have to be in the shelter to recieve services like hot meals, water and so on. We have been staying with friends. We will be returning to our home today to start cleaning up from the flood. We live in Hitchock TX.

  19. Hi Laura, we’re so sorry about your home, but we’re so glad you’re safe. Everyone affected can find help at a Red Cross shelter. Right now, we’re still working on staffing emergency shelters across the state, but you can find food and other supplies by visiting one of our shelters. Find the one closest to you at redcross.org/shelter. Sending virtual hugs to you!

  20. My husband is a carpetner was wondering if you there will be jobs needed for that and when we may think about moving there to .

  21. I have not previously been a member of the Red Cross, but would like to help in any way possible! Please let me know what is needed most at this time. Thank you!

  22. Hi Mandy – We’re so excited that you want to help our fellow neighbors as a Red Crosser! Please visit redcross.org/volunteer. Our volunteer services teams have seen an overwhelming number of volunteers come out to serve. A member of the volunteer services team will reach out just as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and willingness to help!

  23. While viewing the coverage of hurricane Harvey rescued survivors and
    other searching for someone
    When most are covered up in red cross blankets if there was away to put a larger name tag on it when it’s given to them so that a sleeping missing person could be located at anytime I think it would help.respectfully
    G.wise

  24. Hello, I have a few questions and concerns. I have been hearing a lot talk about the trust worthiness and reliability of Rescross. Is there any way the concerned people of America view real relief stories? Also, is there a way for donatater’s to see how much of an impact their contributions have made?

  25. This explanation is well done and provides accurate information from the Red Cross. Volunteers are not perfect but are all heart in dealing with clients. Keep up the good work everyone. Thank you all from an ARC volunteer for 13 years.

  26. As a Hurricane Harvey survivor I have 3 questions: #1 If there are 500 hundred hungry evacuees and someone steps up and donates the food to feed them; what gives the RED CROSS the authority to intervene and block the distribution of the food? The RED CROSS is neither a government organization nor an organization with any civil authority what so ever.
    Question #2 – What right does the RED CROSS have to seize supplies being donated to a church and claiming they have authority to do so?
    Question #3 – Last week I watched a team of RED CROSS vans from New York, drive from small town to small town without ever engaging the people needing help or actually doing anything. I was searching for fuel and bumped into them repeatedly. Was this some sort of PR campaign?
    Comment: I’ve seen so many local private volunteers and out of state private volunteers getting their hands dirty and doing the work needed to feed our people, shelter them and to rescue them. It seems like the RED CROSS likes to jump into the middle those efforts and take most of the credit for it. What has happened during Harvey has given the RED CROSS a BLACK EYE in my opinion. No more donations from this family and no more support. I don’t expect a response… Don’t worry, I feel the same about the American Cancer Society… I too am a cancer survivor and have seen how they work too. Disappointed in Texas

  27. Please view the video posted by Wendy Wilkerson Underwood to her Facebook page on Sept. 10 at 6:00 PM. It is regarding throwing away NEW supplies in the trash. This is why people are so disgusted with the way the American Red Cross operates and refuse to give. I used to donate to this organization, but no more.

  28. My name is amber i have two boys and i was wondering wen u all was gone open the havery a…. page back up so i can sign up for me and my boys

  29. When will the Red Cross publish instructions on how to apply online for the Hurricane Harvey Disaster funds? We have checked all over the web site and nothing!!!

  30. When will the website up for the $400 dollars. I’m in need it is an emergency. Im about to lose the hotel due to lose wage and I evacuate from my home.

  31. Dear Felicia, please try again. Severely impacted Texas households that need immediate assistance can now apply at redcross.org/HHIA. Thank you and hang in there – we know these are difficult times.

  32. Where can I get medicine?! The website is down to receive monetary donations from red cross, I have to wait to talk to a fema rep because they can’t hear me on the phone ( very sick ), I know where to get food, toiletries, clean up supplies and clothing. (minimal) but when I called 211 they could not tell me where to get medicine. I am very sick and the hospital closest to me was flooded and closed! I can barely breath, very congested, throat and ears are on fire, and can not talk louder than a whisper. I spent all my money on tylenol, Dayquil, Nyquil, and cough medicine. They are no longer working. Where can I get medicine? Thank you.

  33. Hi Victoria, thank you for your patience with the website – please try again today. Severely impacted households in Texas that need immediate assistance can apply at redcross.org/HHIA.

  34. Ive been checking the website everyday to try to register. Nothing everyday but the message to “try tomorrow.’ Serously? Its been 3 weeks since the hurricane hit. Who is helping us? Churches and people from other states. Not you. Not FEMA. But God is in control and He and His children will take care of us. People are hurting and suffering and you seem to be dragging your feet. No wonder you are getting such negative criticisms They were here well ahead of ya’ll. Millions of dollars have been donated so where is it? Get that site up and running. In todays technology there is no excuse for these delays!

  35. To add to my previous comment: You say you are still helping at shelters. Most shelters have been closed. A lot of people have returned home to start clean up. So I say again please get that site up and running. I feel so for the people of Florida hit by Irma if you treat them the way you have treated Texas. One thing about Texans is we takw can of our own when you dont.