NEWS: South Carolina sends aid to Texas storm victims

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Flooded streets in Pearland, Texas. Photo by Brant Kelly via Wikimedia Commons.

[UPDATED, 8 p.m.] South Carolina, no stranger to flooding or storms, has been sending resources to Texas to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“People in South Carolina know what it’s like to need help,” said Louise Welch Williams, CEO of the South Carolina region for the American Red Cross.  “I remember sitting in my office in Charleston, South Carolina, and seeing American Red Cross emergency response vehicles come in from across the country and the good feeling that caused – knowing the Red Cross is helping.”

As of Thursday afternoon, South Carolina’s five Red Cross chapters had sent 70 trained volunteers and four emergency response vehicles to Texas.  More may go, but that’s on hold for now until the intentions of Irma, a tropical storm that blossomed into a hurricane Thursday.  It may be heading our way.

Meanwhile, the state of South Carolina sent two teams of 24 personnel each to Texas, according to Derrec Becker of the S.C. Emergency Management Division.  The state deployed a helicopter air rescue team as well as the incident management team at the S.C. Forestry Commission.

Additionally, nonprofit groups, such as Rotary Clubs across the state, are sending donations to clubs and organizations in the Houston area. United Ways across the state are working to coordinate aid.  And the Charleston School of Law invited impacted Texas law school students to continue their education tuition-free for a semester as the area recovers.

Welch said there were two great ways for people to help now:  “The best way to help those affected by this storm is a financial gift to the Red Cross or become a trained Red Cross volunteer,” she said, adding that the organization only deploys volunteers who had received Red Cross training.  Welch added that the Red Cross also is low on blood donations and making a gift of blood could help the local area.

Haley Ezekiel of the Lowcountry Food Bank said another way people could help now would be to send donations to Feeding Texas, which coordinates for all of the food banks in Texas.

“They have the ability to quickly mobilize funding for their most essential needs,” she said.  “While food donations are typically appreciated during disaster relief, we are encouraging an outright financial donation to enable Feeding Texas to assess their community’s most pressing needs and have donations on hand to purchase items.”

The United Way Association of South Carolina and its local affiliates are providing information on drop-off locations for donations, ways to give financially and volunteer needs, officials said.  It also offers online information at SC211.org on shelters, important numbers and other resources that South Carolina residents can share with family and friends in the impacted areas.

“We’ve been there and our heart goes out to the people of Texas. United Way is dedicating our resources to support ongoing recovery efforts,” aid Kelly Callahan Cruise, president and CEO of the United Way Association of South Carolina. “If someone here has family members in southeast Texas, let them know that they can still dial 2-1-1 to reach the Texas 2-1-1 for information on where they can find help.”

How to donate

Red Cross.  You can help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.  The best way to ensure your Red Cross donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. The agency also recommends completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with your check.

Feeding Texas.  Click here

United Way.  Click this link to learn about ways to help via SC211.org.

Warning from the Secretary of State’s office

Earlier this week, S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond issued a warning to advise consumers to be on the lookout for fake charities seeking to exploit the Texas disaster and to lure you to give your money to them.  His advice, according to a release:

Seek out a charity that needs your support.  Be cautious of groups that may approach you. Get more information on a particular charity by visiting the SC Secretary of State’s Office at http://www.sos.sc.gov to search on a particular charity or by calling 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).

Donate to well-known charities. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. They may mean well, but lack the infrastructure to provide assistance.  Do not assume a charity is legitimate based on its name. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.

Who’s calling? If you receive a call from a professional solicitor, they must disclose the following at the time of the call:

  • that he/she is a paid solicitor;
  • the name, location and purpose of the charity; and
  • the registered, true name of the professional fundraising organization for which he/she works.

Know where the money is going.  Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the charitable cause.  Find out their mission and history.  Don’t be afraid to ask for details in writing.

Do not provide personal or financial information to cold callers. This includes your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers. Scam artists can use this information to commit fraud. When in doubt, hang up!

Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check.

— Andy Brack, editor and publisher

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