Landscapers pitch in to aid Hurricane Harvey victims and how you can help too

Updated Aug 31, 2017
Texas National Guardsmen help evacuate residents affected by flooding. Photo: Department of DefenseTexas National Guardsmen help evacuate residents affected by flooding.
Photo: Department of Defense

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, Aug. 25, Houston has been inundated with a historic amount of rainfall resulting in devastating flooding.

According to Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with the forecasting firm WeatherBell, Harvey has brought at least 20 inches of rain to more than 6 million people.

“To maximize the population affected by a landfalling hurricane, you could not have picked a more treacherous place on the East Coast of Texas to envelope Houston,” Maue told Mashable. “Just awful luck (and) placement.”

Yet despite this on-going tragedy, many are stepping up to help in any way they can.

Two landscapers from Blue Springs, Missouri, who were prepared and conducted flood rescues in Overland Park, Kansas, the previous week have now traveled to Houston to coordinate with local authorities for access to flooded areas.

Spencer Sherf and Cyrus Dawson will be using their military surplus Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), which can safely travel through water as deep as 7 feet.

The HEMTT has eight 52-inch wheels and weighs 20 tons. The machine is usually used to deliver materials for new swimming pools, landscaping and masonry jobs for Dawson’s Stonehenge Landscape & Exteriors.

“I’ve got several friends down there,” Sheft told the Kansas City Star. “Anything I can do to help out, whether it’s to bring supplies or lend a helping hand, I’m passionate about.”

On Monday, the pair were outfitting the HEMTT with jet skis and a 25-man raft for their rescue missions.

Another pair of men are heading to Houston on Friday to help the victims of Harvey. Pete Rossini of Rossini Landscaping and Ezra Zimmerman of EZ Moving and EZ Junk Removal from Ridgefield, Connecticut, are flying to Texas and from there they plan to rent a 26-foot box truck and then load it up with $10,000 worth of food and water to take to the Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center.

Both Rossini and Zimmerman have pledged $1,500 a piece and have set up a GoFundMe to reach the $10,000 they need. Zimmerman said that they would cover the difference if the goal was not met, but as of right now the pair has raised $13,188 and the goal has been raised to $15,000.

“I saw the level of devastation on the news, and I realized I was sitting here unaffected in my house in Ridgefield,” Zimmerman told the Ridgefield Press. “I just kept thinking, ‘They’re suffering and fighting for their lives right now.’”

However, not everyone who wants to help can make it down to Houston, but there are still many different ways to help those who are in need. Below are some of the organizations that are working with the relief effort.

Give money

The American Red Cross is hosting at least 1,800 shelters in Texas, has enough supplies to support 28,000 and has stocked up on blood for transfusions. To donate online click here, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to give $10.

GlobalGiving has a goal of raising $2 million for its Harvey relief fund and these funds will be used to purchase food, water and shelter and then transition to long-term recovery efforts.

United Way of Greater Houston has also launched a relief fund, and will focus on meeting basic needs before focusing on long-term recovery efforts.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is another organization that is collecting money and says it focuses on “investing well rather than investing quickly, addressing the greatest needs and gaps in funding that may be yet to emerge.”

Donate food

For those who are wary about their money not being spent correctly, they can cut out the middle man by donating food to food banks.

Feeding Texas is a statewide nonprofit that coordinates with the state and other providers so that relief reaches families quickly. The Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are also asking for donations. Non-perishable goods like canned foods, pasta, rice and peanut butter are good options.

Provide shelter

Airbnb has set up an urgent accommodations site and people can open their homes to evacuees. Those affected by the storm have their service fee waived for those who check in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 25.

Donte blood

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is in need of more than 2,000 units of blood and the biggest need is for O positive and O negative blood types. American Red Cross and Carter BloodCare are also accepting donations. Click here for blood-collection sites.

Help kids and people with disabilities

Save the Children focuses on providing families with items their little ones need, including cribs, changing tables, baby shampoo and diapers. It also has trained staff to help children in these difficult times.

The Texas Diaper Bank is accepting diaper donations in this time of crisis, but also works to help vulnerable babies, children with disabilities and seniors.

Portlight Strategies is working with FEMA, the state of Texas and disability groups to address the needs of those who call its Hurricane Harvey disability hotline. It has helped disabled individuals post-disasters, and its longest running disaster recovery effort was after Superstorm Sandy when it helped residents replace lost medical equipment.

Aid animals

The Houston Humane Society is caring for animals and moving them to other shelters to make room for strays.

Austin Pets Alive! has transported more than 235 animals to its shelter and is seeking financial donations as well as people to foster or adopt the pets. Meanwhile SPCA of Texas has set up a temporary animal shelter in Dallas near the evacuees’ shelter so they can visit their pets.

Remember these are just a handful of the organizations that you can help support.

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