Double down on Texans helping Texans get through Hurricane Harvey

The image I can't get out of my mind is the little boy sitting on the counter in his flooded kitchen clutching his teddy bear.

Watching the stories come out and frantically checking our phones, we've been worried sick about all of our friends, family members, partners, and so many other Texans along the Gulf Coast. We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and dry. 

We're heartbroken by the devastation, but we've also been moved by the images and stories of so many neighbors helping neighbors and first responders working around the clock to rescue and support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt © Texas National Guard (CC)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt
© Texas National Guard (CC)

Not all of us can rush into a flooded home to evacuate stranded families, but there are other ways that we can channel that same spirit of Texans helping Texans. We know that many of you are already helping out in your own ways, and we appreciate it.

If you're thinking about ways to help, we encourage you to pitch in by making a donation to relief efforts, volunteering your time at a local shelter, or inviting evacuees to stay with you. 

If you're not sure where to direct your efforts, consider donating to these United Way programs or take a look at this Texas Monthly article with suggestions for ways to help out. 

Health and mental health professionals -- whose services are particularly needed at this time -- can click here to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross.

And if you need to talk to someone about the stress and anxiety triggered by the hurricane, consider calling SAMHSA's Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Of course, saving lives, getting through this tragedy, and rebuilding Texans' lives and cities will take much more than volunteer efforts and charitable donations. Our local, state, and federal governments will continue to play critical roles in the rescue and relief effort, the long-term recovery process, and the many other challenges created by the hurricane.

Here at Texans Care for Children, we are only starting to identify some of the ways that Texas children's policy and programs are affected, such as the need for trauma-informed services; the impact on health care; and the closure of schools, juvenile justice facilities, and CPS residential treatment facilities. As these needs come into focus, we'll be ready to work with you and other partners and policymakers to make sure children and families receive the support they need.

But in the meantime, stay safe, stay dry, hug your loved ones, make sure your neighbors are okay, and see if there's a way that you can pitch in.