Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Disaster relief for children and adults with disabilities

This post is being updated as more information becomes available.

Two disabled people were among a group stranded on a rooftop in Houston; I watched their rescue on CNN late last night. Portlight, a nonprofit that facilitates projects for people with disabilities, reports hearing from people being turned away from shelters and denied sign language interpreters, "many of the same issues we've heard throughout past disasters," the site notes.

There are not enough first responders. The usual infrastructure for emergency relief isn't functioning. One man in Aransas Pass, the father of a 40-year-old man with disabilities, told The Denver Post that his son is on his town's list of residents who need help with evacuations; nobody came for him.

Natural disasters can pose extra challenges for families of children with disabilities and people with disability. Here are some resources for children and adults with disabilities and medical needs, whether you or your family need help or want to donate money, supplies or otherwise pitch in:

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies has a hotline at 800-626-4959 to help get people with disabilities and elderly people to safety, provide for immediate needs for durable medical equipment and other assistive technology, and problem-solve other disability accessibility issues. Find them on Facebook here. Its partner is Portlight, a longtime provider of relief to people with disabilities during disasters (they accept donations via PayPal).

The Little Lobbyists is collecting supplies for children with complex medical needs impacted by Harvey. They've partnered with Trach Mommas of Louisiana, Protect TX Fragile Kids, The Parker Lee Project, Advocates for Medically Fragile Kids NC and Moms of Trach Babies to help. You can ship supplies to Texas at the following address; please include an itemized list of supplies, which must be unopened, unused and not expired:
The Parker Lee Project
ATTN: Harvey supplies
1810 S Kaufman St #204
Ennis, TX 75119
You can also drop off supplies in Texas and Louisiana, by appointment; see the website for more information, which is updated frequently. Or you can make a monetary contribution via PayPal to

AAC Relief is helping individuals and family members who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication. You can request assistance here. You can also send supplies.

Unlocking Autism is providing grants to families living with autism who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey; priority is extended to families who are displaced. You can apply here.  The nonprofit is accepting donations here.

Insulin For Life, which partners with major organizations including the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is collecting diabetes-related supplies to distribute. The nonprofit is also accepting donations to fund its work.

The Texas Diaper Bank supports the needs of babies, children with disabilities and vulnerable senior citizens (diapers are often not available at emergency shelters). You can contribute to their Amazon Disaster Relief Diaper Wish List.

Autism Rescue Angels provides funding for families having a hard time paying for care associated with emergency medical needs, among other ones. The nonprofit is accepting donations.

A teacher in Texas has started an Adopt a Classroom program. Register through her form if you are a teacher in need of help—or you would like to send supplies. Although her form doesn't list the option of helping a classroom that has children with disabilities, you could specify that if you wish.

Airbnb has a list of people who are opening their homes free to Texas residents in need between now and September 25; here's the page where people can find a place to stay, or you can offer yours.

Check the Facebook page of Disability Rights Texas for other resources.

Need a listening ear? Call the Disaster Distress Hotline, which provides 24/7 crisis counseling year-round for people experiencing emotional distress due to natural or human-caused disasters: 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

Other key organizations that are providing general relief:

The American Red Cross: Check their map of shelters to find housing, or call 1-800-733-2767. To donate: text "Harvey" to 90999 to make a $10 donation, give online or call 1-800-733-2767. If you can safely reach a shelter in Texas or can remotely interpret through video and wish to volunteer your time and skill to the Red Cross, text the Disability Integration Coordinator at 469-858-1574 or email—again, email or text only.

Catholic Charities USA: The official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church provides immediate relief in the form of cash assistance, food, water, personal care supplies, cleaning materials and other needed items. Here is a list of their Texas locations:

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston, 713-526-4611
Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas, 409-924-4400
Catholic Charities of Central Texas, 512-651-6100
Catholic Charities East Texas, 903-258-9492
Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, 361-884-0651

To donate to Catholic Charities USA: You can contribute here.

Salvation Army USA: You can reach the Houston branch at 713-752-0677. To donate: Text "STORM: to 51555 to donate, contribute online or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Here is a relief map to find resources and aid, shelter and volunteer opportunities.

Other ways to donate and help:

Direct Relief: Runs the largest charitable medicine program in the U.S., providing prescription drugs and other medical supplies to clinics. You can make a contribution here. Americares also provides emergency medicine and supplies; you can donate here.

Global Giving: Donate to to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund here.

The Jewish Federations of North America: It's started a relief fund here.

Save the Children: Text "hurricane" to 20222 to make a $25 donation, or give online here.

Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief: You can donate here.

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center: For those living in the south Texas area, you can schedule a time to donate on the group's website, or call 210-731-5590.

Here is a list of food banks
 that will need donations to fund them.

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  1. Looking for help for my brother and family
    Is in wheelchair and had to evacuate his home in family they need a place to stay and are in Austin Personal funds are depleated

    1. I'm so sorry. Can you call the hotline above/contact Air BNB for them?

    2. Melquiades Hernandez:

      Yes, that would be a good idea.

      I hope the property involved is accessible and that there are lots of drop-in centres as well.

      So many of us don't have emergency money. We are a paycheck or six from being homeless [or relief funds in this instance].

      It might be good to have an account or access to one. There's lots of keypad money. And that whole falling behind on payments/needs.

      I do know that most people seem to have a mobile / cell phone. If they have that they are in business.

      Best wishes with your brother and the family, Melquiades!

  2. Thank you, Ellen.

    Catriona Gunn is based in South Australia. She writes the blog THERE AND BACK BY TRICYCLE. As needed she is called on in disasters and tragedies like Tropical Storm Harvey to develop communication techniques for people - alternative and augmentative.

    The world becomes so much smaller and so much bigger in times like these.

    And an Amazon reviewer would say they appreciate the mention of the Catholic Charities. This person is based "Under the Sun" and has been reviewing books and other materials since the beginning of the century.

  3. To all of my friends and family in Houston and surrounding areas: If you can get out, you're more than welcome to stay with us in Allen, TX - we will accommodate the best we can. Especially for our "especially needed" kiddos & families. We have nebulizers, feeding pumps, cpt compression, suction, oxeygen, chairs & standers and a few other miscellaneous supplies.

  4. Thanks, Ellen! I'm going to add some of these to my post. If you hear of anything about epilepsy specifically, let me know. I've tried to contact the Epilepsy Foundation of Houston but get no answer.

  5. All of the news coming in from Houston has been so heart wrenching. I cannot fathom what these people are going through, and how people like our own children would not fare well in these situations. Like my three year old? Waist deep water, she cannot walk, we'd have to carry her for days straight so that she wouldn't drown. It literally breaks my heart in two.


  6. My sister's neighbor needs help cleaning up. He's in a wheelchair. Does anyone know where I can call to get him help cleaning his home after the floods?

    1. Could she help him apply to FEMA? Here's the application:
      I also think she should call the hotline above to ask: 800-626-4959


Thanks for sharing!

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