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Ways to help Hurricane Harvey victims

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Amid the devastation Harvey has brought to areas of Texas and Louisiana, one good piece of news comes from Ken Lovell, executive director of the Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston.

To my email he responded: “Thank you for thinking of us. The whole BTAMH office crew is safe at home with no flooding inside homes. On the news I have seen many BTAMH dealers helping the rescue efforts. I have not been able to get to our office to see if there is any damage there. I tried this morning to reach the office, but just too many flooded streets and freeways. Once we can get back to the office and get our communication lines open, I will be able to evaluate our individual dealers and their conditions. Thanks again, keep us in your prayers.”

At this moment there’s just a hope that most area dealerships aren’t damaged, albeit many likely are. But it’s no surprise that many dealers are manning boats in the massive rescue effort that has literally saved thousands of people this week. Indeed, so many boat owners, including the “Cajun Navy,” have joined the rescue efforts. Makes me proud of my fellow boaters.

Surely all dealers around the country should keep their Texas/Louisiana counterparts in prayer. And realizing that recovery from such devastation will take time, money and effort, there may be many dealers asking themselves how they and/or their dealership team might help. Based on an article by Suzanne Lucas appearing in INC Online, here are some ideas to help:

Donate cash to a charity that’s on the ground. The American Red Cross is a key emergency responder. Contrary to common thought, the Red Cross is not a government agency, but its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when it was granted a congressional charter to “carry on a system of national and international relief.” Another preferred responder is The Salvation Army and it’s already working around the clock to help the thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by Harvey. There are also religious and faith-based organizations on the ground, such as the Catholic Charities, the Baptist Global Response, Samaritans Purse and Operation Blessing has brought in trailers with food and shower facilities, among other worthy groups.

Organize a blood drive at your dealership. Blood is always needed. Although they may not need a large influx after Harvey, you can still schedule a blood drive now or later. Remember, although hurricanes are visible disasters, there are local disasters all the time in the form of accidents and illnesses, and blood literally saves lives year round.

Hold a collection and donate physical goods. But donate the right goods! According to Suzanne Lucas, when disaster strikes, people love to haul out their old clothes and ship them off, but that's not actually what’s needed. Check with a local charity before you start gathering things that are not needed and wasting time, money and effort that could be better spent elsewhere. People like to give things, but often it's better to hold a fundraiser and send money. Do, however, ask about food, water, hygiene supplies, diapers, formula and similar items that can be in short supply. In other words, ask first and then collect.

Give time off to help. If your dealership is close enough, give your employees time to go and help out an impacted fellow dealer or pitch in with a general local relief group. The physical labor required to clean up after this massive flooding will be considerable. Harvey's victims can use every person that can rip down drywall and carry out or clean up mud-filled equipment.

Help pay affected employees. This is important: Depending on the extent of damage to a dealership, it may not be financially tenable to keep paying all employees while going through the insurance process, relief aid applications, plans and building permitting, construction bids and similar hoops. It all could make it very difficult to continue paying employees who aren’t working. Indeed some may have not only suffered great damage to their homes, but also now don't have a job to go to. But other dealers unaffected by the floods may have need for extra help and could offer fellow dealers an opportunity to send over some employees temporarily.

Cash is still king. Lastly, Suzanne Lucas shared an applicable story of Jennifer Smith Thames, a victim of last year's horrible flooding in Louisiana, who wrote a Facebook post that explained why cash is the best idea:

PSA: For all of those across the country, watching the catastrophic events in TX, and wanting to know what they can do to help, I'm going to say what they'll feel uncomfortable saying.

They'll need money. They just will. Work will be disrupted, insurance will be slow to pay, and probably underpay. Even if they get plenty of insurance money eventually, they'll need money right away.

Less than a week after the flood last year, I was having to buy clothes for our family, replacing ALL of our prescriptions at one time, and buying random other things. We were blessed in that [my husband] Matt continued to get paid with no disruption. We were in the minority.



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