That experience has also given those of us who have gone through this an opportunity to share what helped us in the hours, days and weeks after the floodwaters receded.
If you're like me and want to help friends and family in Texas but aren't sure what to do, here are a few tips:
For friends still in their homes:
- Put valuables in a high place, like the top of a closet. If they have a second story, that's preferable. If they are able to leave the house, put these things in a garbage bag and keep them close:
- Important papers
- Special pictures not on digital files
- Electronics that would be difficult or expensive to replace
For those whose homes have flooded:
- Start a GoFundMe for them. This feels odd to even type -- even after we benefited from so many people's kindness -- but whether or not your affected friends have flood insurance, being able to access funds quickly will be invaluable as the weeks and months after this weather event go by. Some people will prefer to do something "tangible," like the things listed below, but I speak from experience when I say that every $5 donation helps with insulation, paint, contractor fees...the list goes on. And the sooner the GoFundMe is up, the better. People across the country are seeing this footage on the news, and they want to help. A friend did this for us, and I will forever thank her.
- Secure a storage unit nearby that hasn't been flooded. They'll go like hotcakes, and if anything can be salvaged, they will need a place to put their belongings. Also, as they rebuild, they may be given or purchase furniture and will have to put it somewhere. It's better to pay for one month and not need it than to realize you need one and none are available.
- If you are nearby and can get tangible items to people whose houses have flooded, some immediate needs after the flood may be:
- Bath soap
- Laundry basket
- Non-perishable food
- Clothes (underwear, pajamas, gym clothes to gut/rebuild the house in, tennis shoes, work/school clothes, work/school shoes)
- Gift cards (Home Depot, Lowe's, grocery stores, restaurants - fast food and sit-down, hotels, Visa)
- And some immediate needs after the water recedes as they clean and restore their homes may be:
- Contractor-grade trash bags
- Heavy-duty work gloves
- Tools to gut their house (pull up flooring, tear out sheetrock, etc.)
- Tables to put items on that they will want to save. (These tables may be used for a long time afterwards -- we were still using one from our church when we moved back into our house and didn't have countertops yet!)
- Ice chest
- Shop vacuum
- Rubbermaid bins to save salvaged items
- Hand sanitizer
- Encourage them to keep a binder or expanding file for all documentation. It will be a long process, and your friends may move more than once. Starting out with that organization in place will be helpful.
- Start an Amazon wish list for them. They will have many needs over a long period of time, and going ahead and preparing a list that they can populate as they have time (which may be a month from now in between work and gutting a house and other responsibilities) will be more helpful than you know.
If you something to add to this list, please leave a comment.