It seems as though the agencies that are not only within our city limits, but also national, are doing a remarkable job of the flood clean up and working hand in hand with not only each other, but also with the on the ground volunteers to help those in crisis. It is in that vein that the groups are coming together this week to serve the community with a Multi-Agency Resource Center, where most of the agencies are going to be on hand from noon – 8 pm, today through Friday June 12. The location is Westbury United Methodist Church at 5200 Willowbend, Houston TX 77096 and J-Vibe Online Magazine was there to interview all the agencies, and we encourage you to get over there for the help you need and want to help you prepare and know what to expect when you arrive.
Multi-Agency Resource Center
A Multi-Agency Resource Center is exactly what it sounds like. Several national and local agencies have converged into one room where all your needs can be met. If you need mental health assistance or medication, you will be taken care of. If you need to have your house cleaned and mucked out, you will be taken care of. If you need clothing and food assistance, you will be taken care of and if you need help with living arrangements, that is there as well. There is even help with questions about Insurance if you need that. Let’s just call it a “One Stop Disaster Shop.”
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is the first stop in the One Stop Disaster Shop. The American Red Cross can help you on site with medications and prescriptions, as they have health services volunteers that act as a liaison with doctors’ offices and/or pharmacies. They can help with replacing glasses and they are offering emotional support by licensed counselors. They will not register you with FEMA! There are about 6 tables of Red Cross volunteers there, so the wait will never be long and here is what you need to expect and what you should know:
- Have a valid drivers license or something that validates your flooded address that has your name on it. Whether it is a bill or credit card statement. When you first meet with a case worker, the first thing they will do is verify your address and that you actually live there and you were indeed flooded. This is done by damage assessment teams while you wait. These teams not only verify, but see how much damage your property sustained.
- The case worker will ask you what your needs are. If you have many needs, or specific needs, such as various medications, please write them down and bring a list. That makes it easier for them AND for you.
- If the Red Cross can not fill a need, they will send you to the appropriate agency that is there to get that need filled.
- You do not have to be registered with FEMA to get help from the Red Cross, but they encourage you to register and to call 211 and 311 to let them know if you have been flooded!!
- The American Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-Red-Cross
All hands helps not only on the volunteer side, but also those in crisis mode side. This organization is not Houston based, and has come down to help. They organize volunteers on the ground with one of their experienced team leaders and then send them out to “gut and muck.” The requirements for volunteering are that you be 18 years old or if you are younger that you be with a parent. You do not have to have ANY experience. They are in DESPERATE need of volunteers to help them right now and will be here for at least another month, cleaning homes out.
If you go to the Center and are in need of clean up help, stop by their table and they will take your information and send a team out to your home as quickly as possible.
In order to volunteer:
- Go to the Multi-Agency Resource Center and fill out a waiver or to their website at www.hands.org and go to the Texas tab and fill out the form.
Catholic Charities has been around since 1943 and helps with basic needs, such as food, clothing and minor home repair. Some important things you need to know when visiting their table,
- You MUST have a FEMA number in order for them to give you assistance.
- They WILL offer assistance with temporary housing. This includes up to one week for hotel stays, up to $100 rent deposits and helping with filling out the paperwork to secure an apartment.
- They do have vouchers for minor home repairs, which includes things like tarping a roof.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Society of St. Vincent de Paul works strictly on donations and zip codes, and if you happen to live outside the zip code of the group that is represented at the Multi-Agency Resource Center, they will direct you to one of their other locations.
- They have vouchers for clothing, which includes 5 free outfits, 1 pair of shoes, a hygiene kit, pajamas’s for kids and underwear if available and is good for 60 days.
- They also have vouchers that have a number (713-741-8234) to call for furniture for when a person gets settled and can be used at a later time.
- They have two shops, one is located at 6654 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77087 and the other is located at 5326 Cedar, Bellaire, TX 77401.
Jewish Family Services
Jewish Family Services does a little of everything, from housing to financial assistance. At the resource center, they are collecting information as to what your needs are and putting them in a database, and then going through and taking each need and meeting them one by one. You do not need to be there to fill out the form or get help from Jewish Family Services, you can call 713-667-9336 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope Animal – Assisted Crisis Response
Hope brings dogs that are trained to help those in crisis. It has been shown that being able to pet a dog calms people down, and they train their dogs to do just that. They will be at the Resource Center every day this week with various dogs.
If you want to volunteer, but aren’t affiliated with an agency, you need to go to VolunteerHouston.org. They have a kiosk set up at the resource center and are taking volunteers there.
Lonestar Legal Aid
For those that have Flood or Home Insurance questions, Lonestar Legal Aid is there to guide you along. They will be your best bet in those types of situations. If you feel as though you are being price gouged by a contractor, you can also speak with them. They will help with any and all legal questions. We encourage those of you that live in an apartment complex and the landlord/owner is not fixing your apartment or is treating you unfairly to contact them ASAP! The number for them is 713-652-0077.
We can’t stress enough how you MUST register with FEMA! But, we also think that if you have been flooded and need help, the Multi-Agency Resource Center is a great place to go and hit all these agencies at once.