The Category 4 hurricane that barreled into Texas late Friday—the first of that strength to hit the state since 1961—is “a landmark event,” said Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who predicted that his agency would have to be involved for years to deal with Harvey’s catastrophic aftermath. The flooding, tweeted the U.S. National Weather Service, “is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
The devastation of the relentless rain has left at least ten dead in and around Houston, overloaded 911 systems, required the opening of a 5,000-person “mega-shelter,” and required the NWS to add new colors to its weather graphics, but none of that helps the mind fathom the wreckage. Even these amateur drone videos can’t capture it, but they offer a breathtaking overhead view.
At this point, it seems pointless to try to measure the scale of Harvey’s aftermath. Average annual rainfall in Houston is 50 inches. Since Friday, the city has seen over 49 inches. The 9 trillion gallons of water that fell on Houston by Sunday could, according to the Washington Post, fill 14 million Olympic size swimming pools, or 33,906 Empire State Buildings. If spread across the entire U.S., this would amount to .17 inches of rain for every part of every state.
The videos have been popping up on YouTube in recent days despite warnings from officials who say these drones are posing an extreme risk to rescue crews.
Already, organizations are mobilizing to help the victims and are collecting donations online. If you want to help, beware of scams and review the organizations working on the ground in Texas, via the L.A. Times, below. And check out the many campaigns that have been created on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe, which it’s compiled into a central Hurricane Harvey Relief hub.
- American Red Cross: The organization has shelters open, and is shipping truckloads of supplies for distribution. Volunteers are also in place.
- Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is deploying 42 mobile kitchens–each of which can serve an average of 1,500 meals per day–to staging areas in Dallas and San Antonio. They’ll also distribute supplies of water, cleanup kits, food, and shelter supplies.
- Houston Food Bank : Donations to the Houston Food Bank provide meals in emergencies and throughout the year.
- San Antonio Food Bank : The San Antonio Food Bank is collecting monetary donations, along with nonperishable goods and supplies like water, baby food, diapers, flashlights, and new batteries.
- Feeding Texas and local food banks : Feeding Texas is coordinating with partner agencies to provide donation coordination and distribution of food to the public.
- Houston SPCA and SPCA of Texas: These organizations conduct rescues of pets and farm animals, and provide equipment and shelter in emergencies.
- Humane Society of Louisiana : The Humane Society of Louisiana has so far rescued 162 animals from shelters in the hurricane’s path or at risk of flooding.