It’s been nearly a week since Hurricane Harvey smashed into the Texas Gulf Coast leaving death and destruction of epic proportions in its wake and state officials have reported that clean up from this massive storm will take months, if not years.
As is often the case when disaster strikes, East Texans are mobilizing their efforts to help however they can for the affected areas.
Smith County officials have provided a web site -- https://emergency.portal.texas.gov/ -- as an aid in locating charitable organizations assisting in relief efforts. This link also provides information on how to avoid fraudulent charitable contribution schemes.
Along those lines, officials with the Better Business Bureau Serving Central and East Texas’ BBB Wise Giving Alliance are advising people to help as much as they can in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but to do so with caution and make sure their donations get to the people who need it most.
“The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey prompts us to do what we can to help as soon as possible,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB’s Give.org,) “but donors need to be aware of some key cautions so that their generosity will get to those in need quickly.”
BBB officials said they are seeing crowd funding appeals of dubious nature and expect that “storm chasers,’’ – unscrupulous individuals looking to make a quick and dishonest profit from cleanup efforts – will be out in force.
Legitimate charities and organizations that meet BBB standards include: American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Church World Service, Direct Relief, Global Giving Foundation, Humane Society of the United States, Islamic Relief USA, MAP International, Operation USA, Salvation Army, Save the Children, United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Way of Greater Houston.
Consumers can report suspected scams to www.bbb.org/scamtracker or call the Texas Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-800-621-0508 or log on to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials with the Texas Workforce Commission have announced applications are being accepted for Disaster Unemployment Assistance for workers who lost their jobs and self employed individuals who are unable to work as a result of the hurricane. More information can be found on the TWC’s web site, www.twc.state.tx.us.
Those interested can also log on to the TWC’s online job-search engine, www.WorkinTexas.com.