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Helping Houston weather the storm
September 6, 2017

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The most recent updates from the Associated Press are grim: The death toll is climbing as public safety officials continue to find the bodies of those lost in the flooding wrought by Hurricane Harvey.

Thousands are homeless. The tally of homes destroyed has topped 7,000 with the number of residences damaged estimated at 37,000-plus. Many are still flooded.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state could need more than $125 billion in federal aid. The destruction caused by wind, rain, street flooding and flash floods is of unprecedented magnitude, officials say, and full recovery is years in the future.

As Congress readies for emergency appropriations, Americans across the country are doing what Americans do: rallying to provide aid, relief and volunteers.

On the state level, Gov. Rick Scott's office reports that nearly 270 volunteers have deployed to Texas and Louisiana with Volunteer Florida coordinating the activities of 10 disaster relief organizations.

Meanwhile, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers are assisting with disaster response efforts in the Houston area, the governor's office reports. Those officers have rescued more than 200 people since arriving in the area equipped with "more than 40 boats, 17 high water vehicles, two Mobile Command Centers, and eight shallow draft vessels."

On the local level, organizations, businesses and individuals have joined relief efforts large and small across the U.S.

Among them:

n The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has set up on-line contribution links for both Hurricane Harvey victims and Southwest Florida flood relief. Visit floridacommunity.com/

n The Animal Refuge League - North Fort Myers based ARC - will send two volunteers to rescue dogs and cats that are homeless due to Hurricane Harvey. ARC relies on donations to support its rescue efforts. Visit animalrefugecenter.com .

n Winn-Dixie, together with the parent company's Southeastern Grocers Foundation, will accept donations in support of the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief fund to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Now through Sept. 6, customers can make donations at all Winn-Dixie stores during checkout, as well as online at the grocer's website, www.winndixie.com . Every cent raised will go to the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief to provide food, shelter, counseling and other assistance to tens of thousands of people after the unprecedented flooding that inundated neighborhoods. Customers can also donate at the American Red Cross website: www.redcross.org/

We thank these groups and the innumerable others, as well as the various volunteers, both local and not, for their efforts.

We also urge those who donate to be cautious with their cash and donate only to known or vetted groups.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam H. Putnam encourages Floridians to visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com to research charitable organizations before donating money to help those in need.

Good advice as America rallies to help Houston weather the aftermath of this devastating storm.

- Neighbor editorial

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