The entire Houston region in one way or the other suffered from the heavy rains and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. For some, the aftermath is about literally starting from scratch. For others, there was little or no physical damage, but the emotional shock of watching all this happen to their city and likely people they know won’t just go away after a few sunny days.
Those of us who have been able to “carry on as usual” are in a position to start helping Hurricane Harvey flood victims who cannot do that. Large agencies and governmental bodies are doing the big jobs, but we can pitch in by helping those who still have a home – even if it no longer looks and feels like the home they were accustomed to. There’s a lot of cleanup to do in a lot of homes, and while the homeowners may feel uncomfortable suddenly being in such a state of need, most will be grateful for the helping hand.
If you feel it’s your “mission” to help restore a flooded or damaged home, here are some tips and ideas.
What to bring when helping Hurricane Harvey flood victims
Every flood is different as is every family situation within a flooded home. When you go to help, bring along an assortment of things that might come in handy such as:
- Cleaning supplies like paper towels, disposable gloves, mops and brooms, bleach, Lysol, Clorox wipes, etc.
- Face masks to prevent the inhalation of mold and other toxins that might be present (see below)
- Sturdy cardboard boxes
- Hand soap and sanitizer
- Mosquito repellent
- Fresh water
- Food – including easy-to-eat packaged foods as well as healthier foods like fruit and cut-up veggies
IMPORTANT: If the home you’re helping out in has standing water and signs of growing mold, it may not be safe for you or anybody else to be in there. If the family intends to resume housekeeping after everything is cleaned up and repaired, strongly suggest that they arrange for mold inspection and removal services from a certified mold professional. Living and working around actively growing mold can be dangerous to your health.
Other ways you can help
Beyond cleaning and reorganizing a household, there are other ways you can help:
- Buy shoes for those in the family who need them.
- Make arrangements for the above-mentioned mold inspection and for water mitigation, if necessary.
- Wash clothes and bedding.
- Collect clothing that you and your family can do without and give it to the family in need.
- Take the children in the home on an outing – this will give the kids a chance to have some fun and provide the parents with a needed break.
- Pick up medications, food, personal items or anything else the family might need.
- Offer to drive family members to appointments or places they need to go.
After this initial intervention, stay in touch with the family and let them know you can help in any way you can down the line. In most cases, if the home is still standing and all mold and water-removal tasks have been seen to, life will get back to “normal” in a week or two.
And one other important thing you can do: Be thankful and grateful that you escaped the worst of the disaster and are in a position to help with the needs of others not so fortunate. You were blessed with health and safety, and now you can become a blessing for someone else.