Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that is considered one of the strongest to ever make landfall, hit along northern Texas and western Louisiana coast on August 27. (This comes just after Tropical Storm Marco made landfall in Mississippi the day before.)
Areas such as Lake Charles, Louisiana, have been especially battered by what the National Weather Service describes as a life-threatening and “unsurvivable” 15- to 20-foot storm surge, winds of up to 150 miles per hour, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. And many Texans know all too well that recovery from Laura will take days, weeks, months, and even years.
After issuing a 60-day disaster declaration to allow for state funding, the City of Fort Worth activated two shelters for hurricane evacuees. As of noon Thursday, 473 total guests had arrived, including 234 who arrived by bus and 239 who self-evacuated, city officials said. They are being housed at two local hotels.
"The evacuees cannot be housed in a typical emergency shelter environment due to social distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic," the city said in a statement. "Arriving guests were screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms, and testing is available onsite."
In neighboring Dallas, the Office of Emergency Management said that as of Thursday morning, it had received 17 buses and filled 152 hotel rooms with 305 evacuees; 87 are minors and 218 adults. Shelter information is available by calling 211 or 1-800-RED CROSS.
Here are some ways Dallas-Fort Worth residents can lend a hand, near and far:
Dallas Animal Services has been working with Gulf and Dallas-area partners to assist pets and pet owners displaced by the storm, the city says. Donations are being accepted to help save pets; donate here.
The local American Red Cross is looking for donations for hurricane-battered areas. Shelter help is needed to assist those displaced by the storms, and training is provided to volunteers.
For those seeking to contribute, navigating exactly which group or organization is best to donate to can be challenging. To that end, Charity Navigator has vetted what are described as “highly rated organizations” that provide relief and support to those affected with dedicated funds.
The site adds that it will continuously update this resource as other nonprofits providing direct relief are identified and vetted by its analysts.
Here are the organizations vetted by Charity Navigator:
- All Hands and Hearts Smart Response
- American Red Cross
- Center for Disaster Philanthropy
- Direct Relief
- Family Promise
- Heart to Heart International
- Houston SPCA
- Matthew 25: Ministries
- Operation USA
CultureMap will update this listing.