Isn’t it ironic how crisis and destruction never seems to occur when individuals are prepared and equipped to handle the chaos? It’s true, natural disasters take families and communities by surprise every single year, leaving behind immeasurable amounts of tragedy that takes weeks, months and even years to repair. This past week, colleagues, friends and family members in the community of Harris County located in the Houston area of Texas found out all too well about the devastation that can occur as a result of rain.
According to reports, almost 240 billion gallons of water fell in the Houston area, and Mother Nature dumped more than 18 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. As a result, there was extensive flooding in the area causing more than 1,000 homes to be swamped and an estimated $5 billion in damage. Some of these individuals lost their car, some lost their homes and some lost everything they owned. The days ahead for these individuals will be long and winding, but you have the choice to be a friend during this time of crisis. How you ask? Simple! Below is a list of 10 easy ways to positively impact a life for our Houston flood victims.

    1. Volunteer – It’s the easiest and best way to have the biggest impact on those impacted by the flood. Whether you’re near or far, volunteering at your local Red Cross or soup kitchen/food pantry can help expedite the time the victims are out of their homes and without basic items they need
    2. Listen Sure it may seem simple enough, but being there for friends as a shoulder to cry on and as a listening ear is harder than you think. Flood victims need to emotionally process their loss, and for some individuals that means venting, crying and talking things through.
    3. Offer a Car Ride – What happens when individuals lose their car to a flood, but their insurance doesn’t cover a rental car? Or maybe their insurance does cover a rental, but only as a reimbursement? Renting cars and/or finding alternative transportation is a pain, so offer your car to your friend to get him or her from A to B to C. No excuses if a flood victim is your co-worker.
    4. Cook a meal – Many flood victims lost their homes and may be staying in a shelter or hotel without a proper kitchen or even the groceries to cook a nice meal. Have some individuals over for dinner and treat them to a nice, warm and free home cooked meal. Who doesn’t love a little comfort food?
    5. Donate little things – When you’ve lost everything you own, that includes more than just the big items, like furniture and appliances. Losing your home means you lost blankets, pillows, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, makeup, toys, clothes and a whole lot of other items you can’t even imagine unless you’ve faced similar tragedy. Sparing the little things around your house can have a big impact on those around you.
    6. Offer shelter Sure you may not feel comfortable inviting some random strangers into your home, but if you have friends or family affected by the flood, offer them shelter in your home. Even if things get cramped, your friend will absolutely appreciate the gesture and will enjoy your home far more than a shelter or hotel.
    7. Donate your PTO – Many flood victims are forced to miss days of work because they simply can’t get to the office, or they are dealing with claims adjusters and insurance. Check with your HR Manager, but wouldn’t it be nice to offer these individuals a way deal with things without the stress of using their PTO or not getting paid for missing work? Besides, thousands of hours of PTO goes to waste each year because individuals never use it.
    8. Spare some change – Imagine if every single person in the country donated only 50 cents to help disaster relief. Or imagine if you donated your spare change every time you found some jingling in your pocket. The impact may not be substantial to you, but could be instrumental to a friend.
    9. Do their laundry – It’s just one less thing your friend has to worry about, or maybe even pay for. The little luxuries in life go a long way!
    10. Stay connected – Your friend may need time to process and regroup, but make sure you stay connected and follow up with them via text, email, a phone call, a card or even a carrier pigeon. Let them know you are available and there for them every step of the way!

Experiencing a natural disaster is something individuals are never quite prepared for. Face it, there’s never a good time to lose your home or your furniture to flooding, but as a friend, colleague and family member you can help those in need simply by being a friend during a time of crisis.  Our thoughts are with those affected in Houston and we encourage everyone to positively impact a life today.