I have to admit that I am a bit of a weather nut. I live in Colorado, and I love huge snowstorms as well as huge thunderstorms. I also get intrigued by weather events across the country, such as the recent hurricane in Texas. While record weather and incredible events can be interesting to watch 1,000 miles away, those events can be devastating to the people who are directly affected by them. Being in the real estate industry, I cannot help but think about how many homes have been lost from the floods and winds in Texas. In Northern Colorado, we dealt with a 1,000 year flood a few years ago. We did not get near the amount of rain Texas or Houston received, but many homes were flooded and destroyed that were not in flood zones. Because the houses were not in flood zones, the owners did not need flood insurance and therefore could not repair or replace the home with insurance. Not only did may people lose their homes or have significant damage that is not covered by insurance, but people have also lost their belongings, their jobs, and their lives. I could sit here safe in my comfortable home and tune out the needs of others, or I could do what I can to help. While I could do much more, I can at least write an article that will hopefully encourage others to help those in need. I have also done a little research on the best ways to help.
What is the best way to help people after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey?
I have been watching The Weather Channel, listening to the radio, and monitoring Facebook. I hear the same messages about donating to big national charities like the Red Cross. I have nothing against the Red Cross, but they are huge and require a ton of money just to operate. Doing research to find charities that could make your dollar go a little further is pretty easy. I will say that after a disaster, sending money is usually the best way to help unless you are able to physically visit a disaster zone and donate your time (but keep in mind that travelling to a disaster zone may actually be prohibitive, both due to the number of people doing the same and to your safety). I did a little bit of searching and found sites that rank charities, like charitynavigator.com. They list Red Cross as a great charity to donate to, but they also list some other local charities that would be able to deliver more bang for your buck, like:
- Houston Food Bank.
- Food Bank of Corpus Christi.
- Houston Humane Society.
- Houston SPCA.
- San Antonio Humane Society.
The Houston Food Bank hit home for me because I know how awesome the local food bank here is (Weld County Food Bank). I am a regular donor and sponsor of the Weld County Food Bank, and they can serve something like 5 meals for every dollar donated! I will be donating money to the Houston food bank as I am sure there will be many hungry people without homes and without a clue what to do for the next few days, weeks, or even months. I encourage everyone to take time right now to donate and help those who need it. Many people did nothing wrong to be put in this situation: they simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time during one of the most epic storms ever to hit the US. I am also not saying you should not donate to a group like the Red Cross as that money helps, and they make it super easy. You can even send a $10 donation by texting HARVEY to 90999. If you want to take it a step further, do a little research and donate to a charity that means something to you.
How can people lose so much in a situation like this?
We had a huge flood in Northern Colorado in 2013. Luckily, none of my properties were affected, but many people who were not in flood zones saw their houses flood. Because they were not in flood zones, they did not have flood insurance, and many insurance companies will not cover flood damage with a regular homeowners insurance policy. Some houses were abandoned; others went through foreclosure because people didn’t have the money to fix up their properties. During a huge flood like the one we had or the one in Houston, the water is not crystal clear. It is mucky, nasty, and disgusting. Sewage plants get flooded, which mixes all kinds of junk into the water. That water sits in houses and does a lot of damage. Not only do people have damage to their homes, but most of their belongings are also destroyed. Even if someone has flood insurance and can get everything replaced, replacing all your belongings and wait months or longer for your house to be habitable again isn’t much fun.
Why does helping others help you as well?
After my little discussion above, I know there will be some people who donate and many who will not. Many people who do not donate will have good intentions and intend to donate but get caught up in life and forget. I have done the same thing, and forgetting to help is not the end of the world. But, if you do remember to help out, it can make you feel really good about yourself and even make you more successful. There is a well-known trick to making more money in life, and the trick is to give away money. The more you help others and the more money you give to others, the more money comes back to you. It is hard to donate your hard-earned money when you have bills to pay, want to save money for your family, or have other plans. When you donate money or time, and especially if you are able to see the recipients of that donation and how much it has helped them, it can be a life changer.
I know many people who read this will not donate any money they can to Texas, and that is okay. Some people are not in a position to donate any money, and others may have other charities they donate to instead. I wanted to write this article because I know I can reach a lot of good people who may be on the fence about donating or thinking about it. Maybe this one little push gets a few more of you to help out and make the word a little better. If you do not want to donate money to another state, at least try to donate to your local community to help those in need there.