Be a New Orleanian
How to help people affected by Harvey
There’s no getting around it – New Orleanians are shocked and grieving for our neighbors in Texas and southwestern Louisiana. And we’re still frightened for ourselves with the possibility of heavy rain overwhelming our drainage infrastructure. That lady in the room who haunts thousands of people every August seems to have invited her cousin Harvey to join her.
I’m not going to pretend I have a Katrina story. I watched the horrifying news coverage from afar, just as I am now with Texas. I moved to New Orleans years after the storm and as I came to know people, they began to share their stories of fear, struggle and rebuilding. I can only imagine how my friends and neighbors are feeling, many of whom are now triggered and dealing once again with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Something I do know, however, is the feeling that bubbles up from around the city like water that refuses to drain. We are generous, and we will do everything we can to help the survivors of Harvey. If you are visiting NOLA and really want to feel like a New Orleanian, join us. Here’s how.
Don’t ask anyone about their Katrina story.
Not only is it rude, it could really cause someone mental harm. Please refrain from asking, especially right now when folks are reeling in their memories. If your bartender wants to share their story with you, they will.
It’s free. If you saved every last penny to afford a New Orleans vacation, we understand and appreciate it. But you can probably donate blood and literally save lives. One pint of blood is used for three transfusions. Parts of Houston got over 50 inches of rain. Houston has a population of 2.3 million people. We’re going to need a lot of blood. Contact The Blood Center to find a blood drive and check your eligibility.
Dine out and donate gift cards.
After Katrina, our restaurant workers were some of the first to return to the front lines. From dishwashers to James Beard award-winning chefs, our hospitality industry provided meals and comfort to first responders, displaced citizens and each other. They are sending that NOLA sense of help westward in their “With Love from NOLA” gift card drive. Bring gift cards from stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, CVS, Walgreens, Target or Wal-Mart with you when you dine at one of more than 28 participating restaurants through Aug. 31. Visit the Flood and Disaster Outreach-New Orleans Cooks Facebook page for a list of participating restaurants.
Give money. For pets or people.
It’s going to take billions of dollars to help people and cities rebuild from Harvey. Even a small amount from an individual will be combined to create a tremendous impact.
Second Harvest Food Bank is collecting non-perishable food items, but monetary donations will go further to help them buy food and transport it to where it’s needed.
NOLA Pay It Forward was created by the city and the Greater New Orleans Foundation in appreciation of the relief we received after Katrina. The funds donated will go for early relief and rebuilding efforts.
Louisiana SPCA is currently transporting shelter animals out of New Orleans to shelters north and east in order to make room for the animals they will be receiving from Texas and southwestern Louisiana. They are encouraging monetary donations for their operations, as well as monetary donations to Houston SPCA and SPCA of Texas.
Whatever you can do to help, it’s vital you do something. Don’t be surprised to see signs around town that your servers are donating their tips, your hotel is collecting bottled water or the band is collecting money to head to Texas and do some heavy lifting next weekend. We all pitch in here, and hope you will too.