I’ve been watching the images coming out of Houston. The destruction is significant and the recovery will take years. It seems that everyone, including me, has loved ones in the area and are anxious to get in there and help with the recovery. But if you aren’t an activated emergency responder, or someone who owns a boat, what are you to do?
Here are 10 items that may help:
1. Thou shalt contact your local church, campus organization, and/or charitable organization and offer your help.
Ask your church to set up a collection area for bottled water, shovels, plastic gloves, and breathing masks. Also ask for a special account to collect financial donations.
2. Thou shalt not become a lone wolf.
Working in cooperation with other relief agencies is the best way to provide positive change.
3. Thou shalt not ignore the advice of experts.
Disaster conditions change. If you’re not listening to regular reports then you may find yourself in a terrible spot and in need of rescue.
4. Thou shalt not forget to have an escape plan.
Sure, you can get in, but can you get out? Have you factored in that restaurants, gas stations, ATM’s are not working?
5. Thou shalt not drink any water in a disaster zone.
Even tap water can be contaminated. Carry your own water in and have enough so share.
6. Thou shalt not walk through flowing water.
Most deaths in floods occur when people enter flowing water. It’s a bad idea, don’t do it.
7. Thou shalt not donate clothes.
This one sounds counterintuitive, but relief agencies get loaded down with unclaimed clothes and wind up throwing most of it away. Most groups post a needs list and your gift will be more useful if you stick to it.
8. Thou shalt donate to legitimate charities.
Every disaster has looters and scammers. You can look up legitimate charities with the Better Business Bureau, United Way, etc.
9. Thou shalt continue to help long term.
The need for recovery resources continues long after the media coverage has ended. Look for ways to continue to help others in need.
10. Thou shalt pray for everyone.
Pray for the victims, volunteers, extended family, government officials, and anyone else you can think of.
Jamey Gilliland is the Director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries at LSU of Alexandria, Louisiana Collegiate Missions Coordinator, Adjunct Professor, husband, father, and author.