Help your fellow Americans, but beware of scams

Red Cross Hurricane Harvey - You Can Help Make A Difference
redcross.org/Disaster-Relief/Hurricane‎
The website above is the one I trust because I know the American Red Cross, have donated blood to them for years and having also received help from them.
I also trust the Salvation Army for some of the same reasons as above. Their website is: The Salvation Army - A Donation Makes a Difference
give.salvationarmyusa.org/.
I like to speak from firsthand personal experience when I can and in this case I can. I was an editor for a weekly rag in Beaumont, Texas about 18 years ago and then I was hired to be a “cops and courts” and “government” reporter for the Pt. Arthur News in Pt. Arthur, Texas.
I can verify without a doubt that both towns are flat as a pancake and it wouldn’t take much to cause a flood.
Southeast Texas is basically a coastal piedmont as is much of its Eastern neighbors in the Bayous of Louisiana. Chambers County Texas,  celebrates itself as the Alligator Capital of Texas and throws a party to remind folks of that fact every year.
The city of Galveston is basically just a big island and Galveston County is nothing more than a couple more islands added in. I believe part of the Bolivar Peninsula to the north makes up the rest of it.
Folks in North Central Washington are surrounded by beautiful mountains and well behaved rivers and a lake or two here and there, but way down South water has a mind of its own.
Car ferries are everywhere, bridges abound and many of the Interstates cross bodies of water masquerading as nothing more than causeways built precariously close to the water even on a nice day.
If you are ever down that way, take I-10 from Houston to New Orleans and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Back around the turn of the last century, Galveston barely survived a hurricane that killed 10,000 people and nearly completely destroyed the town. Imagine those kind of numbers today? It would be unthinkable and FEMA, state and county government heads would roll.
The city built a huge 20-foot high seawall in response, but even that isn’t enough to block Mother Nature when she’s got her dander up.
Hurricane Harvey will be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, AccuWeather said last week, estimating the full cost at close to $160 billion. That’s more than Katrina and Sandy combined.
Having lived in Houston and Beaumont, I can assure readers here the importance of the oil refinery business in that part of our nation.
Pt. Arthur has a major oil terminal and unknown (to everyday Washingtonians) are other major oil refineries and ports all along that part of the Gulf. Places like League City, La Porte, Texas City, Baytown, Crosby and La Marque are some of the other towns heavily populated by those who supply refined oil (gasoline, kerosene, etc.) to the rest of the country and many other chemical products.
To put the area in another perspective, the infamous, but yet to be built Keystone Pipeline was eventually supposed to end in Pt. Arthur and then be loaded into ships from there.
The area is also home to offshore oil rigs planted all over the Western Gulf of Mexico. When I wanted to have some fun and drink a few beers, I’d go to Galveston and take a deep sea eight-hour fishing cruise, which inevitably ended up at one of these rigs because that’s where the big fish congregated, treating it as if they were coral reefs.
Red Snapper, Grouper, Spanish Mackerel and Black-tipped shark were plentiful and great on the “barbee.”
Back to reality. Please donate generously to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but don’t fall for phone or mail scams operated by the worst of humanity trying to take advantage of the best of us who just want to help our neighbors in need.
If you don’t trust the internet, you can physically go to the local American Red Cross or Salvation Army offices in your town and personally hand them a check.
They are both verifiable non-profits so make sure you get a receipt for tax purposes. There is one more organization taking the lead in these massive relief efforts in the wake of Harvey and that is Americares.org. “Americares is a non-profit disaster relief and global health organization providing immediate response to emergency medical needs and supporting long-term health care initiatives for people in the United States and around the world,” according to its website.
The only reason I haven’t mentioned it earlier is that I have no personal experience with that particular organization.

Gary Bégin’s opinions are his own and do not reflect opinions of ownership or coworkers of NCW Media. I can be reached via direct email: gary@ncwmedia.net.

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