Hurricane Harvey has come and gone. Now, it's time for the residents of Houston, Texas, to clean up and rebuild. Thankfully, they're not alone.
Groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Samaritan's Purse are joining with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin the tough task of putting lives back together. No doubt you're already helping spread the word about the relief efforts. Thank you!
Part of my background includes crisis communications for a disaster relief agency. Here are some tips our agency would often share with the media:
1) The most important thing you can do right now is to donate to legitimate disaster relief agencies. Let the pros get in and assess the situation. Support them with your funds so they can bring food, water and supplies to victims of the storm.
2) Make sure the agency you're supporting has a good track record of disaster relief work and uses their money wisely. When in doubt, check Charity Navigator or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. You can also Google the company's name and see what's been written by them.
3) Don't encourage volunteers to go to Houston. Yet. Wait until the disaster relief agencies ask for help. If teams head down right now, they'll only add to the chaos.
4) If you are involved in a charity drive for victims, ask people to give only the basics. Avoid clothing drives. This creates extra work because clothes have to be sorted and distributed. Instead, team up with an agency and ask people to give what the relief agency recommends.
5) Keep your listeners up to date with the latest information from the relief agency you're partnering with. Let people know that their money and efforts are being used wisely.
The Houston clean up efforts offer great opportunity for us to shine brightly for Christ. Encourage your listeners to support the work of disaster relief agencies and when the time is right, to get involved and change lives.
Bill Arbuckle CMW