How You Can Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

Never does our compassion and generosity become more evident than following a major disaster, as evidenced by the outpouring of concern and desire to do something for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Numerous nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners and governmental agencies are working together to most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Harvey.

But many are wondering what they can individually do to assist? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there’s one thing you can do and one thing you should not do. In addition, there’s guidance if you’re considering going to Texas to volunteer.

Cash Donations are Best

Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.

hurricane harvey donations

Do Not Donate Unsolicited Items

Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.


Texas and federal officials are also asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders. The National Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.

To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.

Our NewsCenter has more information and tips on how you can assist, including the warning signs of charity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has details on how you can give safely.

You can also learn more from FEMA and follow FEMA’s Hurricane Harvey webpage.

Fairfax Alerts


About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

2 responses to “How You Can Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey”

  1. Anonymous says :

    As a long time disaster responder with several different agencies & organizations, I have seen many otherwise valuable resources turned away by authorities, and even NGOs because that resource failed to plan their mission sufficiently to find the ‘welcome mat’ out in the chaos that is disaster response. It is disheartening, to say the least, for the volunteer & the deterring agent, when faced with one more of thousands of un-vetted potentially unqualified, certainly unprepared volunteer entry but too much overburden to deal with the volunteer support, coordination, security, logistics, etc, such requests require.
    An uncomplimentary analogy is the uncoordinated donation of used clothing, food, etc, that often goes to huge piles of rot for lack of personnel & logistics to collect, sort, & distribute the well meant and otherwise valuable materials.
    Planning MUST occur BEFORE the disaster.
    Therefore, watch this disaster carefully now, from a distance, and learn how to prepare for the next time, during this recovery when people are thinking about what they wish they had or want to have or do differently next time.

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