Help Hurricane Harvey relief efforts



Volunteers help ferry belongings out of flooded homes on boats for residents returning to get their essentials in Houston on Saturday.

About 1,000 miles southwest of the University of Illinois, Hurricane Harvey has left areas of Louisiana and Texas submerged under nearly 50 inches of water.

Students may complain about the wind that has a tendency to whip through central Illinois, but these winds are much less damaging than the winds of a hurricane, and it can be hard to put in perspective just how damaging hurricanes can be for those who have never experienced one. It’s easy to push the news about Hurricane Harvey to the back of your mind and dismiss it as someone else’s problem to deal with.  While many students at the University may feel disconnected from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, our school is home to students from all over the world, and there are students studying right alongside you whose families are likely suffering from the damage.

Twelve years ago, Hurricane Katrina showed many Gulf Coast residents exactly how much damage hurricane winds are truly capable of. However, with Hurricane Harvey, wind hasn’t been the primary source of destruction. It’s been the rain. The area affected by Harvey has experienced a year’s worth of rain in just a couple of days. Some people have drowned and some have lost all of their possessions. There are people in this country right now that have had their homes swept away by the winds and rain, and will have to rebuild from nothing.

We live in a country divided on nearly every issue in the book — immigration, climate change, health care and more — but the wreckage left by Hurricane Harvey has given people an opportunity to lay these differences aside in order to work together.

Over the past week, alongside the headlines about Hurricane Harvey’s dangerously deep flood waters, there have been countless stories about people dropping everything to help. Every day people are traveling hundreds of miles to help rescue, feed or provide general aid to those affected by the hurricane.

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There was a column in Rice University’s student newspaper, The Rice Thresher, about how those who live in Houston should and have come together to be unified as a result of this natural disaster. Students of Rice University, which is located in Houston, have been donating their belongings to be brought to shelters around the area.

There are countless other ways we can help with the disaster relief efforts that don’t cost a fortune, even though we live in Illinois.

College students aren’t typically rolling in a lot of extra money. However, there are ways to help that don’t require spending a lot of money. We know this sounds cliche, but just cutting out on a couple of extra luxuries that we afford ourselves in our day-to-day lives can make a real difference. Every donation helps save lives and restore the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Donate extra food, clothing, toys and other supplies. People who are displaced from their homes have lost everything; any supplies could be helpful to them. Next time you make a purchase at Walgreens, donate an extra couple of dollars on top of your retail price to the relief effort. Other organizations on campus such as Which Wich and Panda Express donate funds when a certain item on the menu is ordered.

You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief or visit the Red Cross website. You can donate any amount to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Just make sure to do some research if you are going to donate money to make sure it will actually be used to help victims of Harvey.

We know it is easy to forget about these disasters when they are happening so far away from where we go about our daily lives. However, for the people who have lost everything because of Harvey, their day-to-day lives have been drastically altered. Take some time to join the relief efforts in any way you can.