Local Organizations Mobilizing to Help Texas
During the service this past Sunday at Nassau Presbyterian Church, Pastor David A. Davis urged worshippers to contribute funds for victims of the disastrous, record-breaking flooding in Texas. At the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, an e-blast asking for contributions this week got an immediate response. At SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals in Skillman, discussions were ongoing Tuesday about how best to assist the rescue of dogs, cats, and other animals left to fend for themselves in the ongoing storm.
Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday evening, August 25, as the first category 4 hurricane to hit the United States since Katrina in 2005, the destruction has been relentless and will take years to address. Anxious to help, local organizations have begun mobilizing to offer assistance С monetary and otherwise.
Money collected last Sunday at the Nassau Presbyterian Church goes to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which has resources and a national response team ready to deploy once it is safe to do so. “Initially, we will send money to that fund,” said the church business administrator Linda Gilmore, on Monday. “We got an email early today saying they are in touch with the affected area. That’s the fastest way to do something. With Katrina, we went through them initially and then had some groups go down to help. It might be that we formulate other responses later, but we’ve learned that getting funds to organizations already mobilized is better than us trying to get supplies to them. As we see what’s really needed long-term, we might do more.”
Ms. Gilmore said those who wish to contribute can either send a check, designated for storm relief, to the church at 61 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542; or donate online at nassauchurch.org. Otherwise, contribute directly to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance at pda.pcusa.org.
Paula Joffe, director of women’s philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, said 100 percent of all monies donated via www.jewishpmb.org/harvey go directly to the relief effort. “Our community is amazingly empathetic and responsive,” she said. “Whenever we have put out appeals to our supporters to help communities in crisis around the country, our community stands up. They are amazing people.”
Statewide, New Jersey Task Force 1 was activated as members of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System and deployed to Texas to help with rescue and recovery. The state’s Office of Emergency Management sends volunteers out in waves, and could possibly call on some local police personnel to help with the effort.
“With Katrina, we sent three officers,” said Sergeant Frederick R. Williams, a spokesman for the Princeton Police Department. “When they contact us, if a second or third wave is needed, we might get some volunteers. We have one officer, Jorge Narvaez, who is a reservist in the Air Force, waiting to see if he’s activated.”
The Rev. Bob Moore of Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action advises people to contribute to the Red Cross. “They are sending 17 from New Jersey,” he said. “Obviously, all of us here feel chagrined and compassion for the people who are suffering and in a crisis situation. One of the nice things about the Red Cross is that this is what it is in business for. They are primed to respond.” Visit redcross.org to donate.
Blood donations are especially needed, especially from those with type O-positive blood, according to the AABB Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism. “We are asking all potential donors, both current and first-timers, to make a commitment to donate blood or platelets as soon as possible,” said Dennis Todd, chair of the task force, in a press release. With blood drives canceled for multiple days in southeast Texas, donations will be needed in coming weeks.
Those anxious to help with animal rescues can contact wingsofrescue.org, which on Tuesday flew more than 100 dogs out of the flood area. Locally, SAVE is hoping to partner with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, which has shelters in Madison and Somerville, in assisting animal rescue efforts.
Scams always arise in disaster response scenarios. To avoid them, the organization Charity Navigator has compiled a list of highly-rated groups that provide assistance. Among those recommended are Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Houston Humane Society, and San Antonio Humane Society. Visit charitynavigator.org for information.