Harvey Relief Tops $200 Million as Irma Menaces Southeast

Harvey Relief Tops $200 Million as Irma Menaces Southeast

As residents of southeastern Texas and parts of Louisiana struggle to recover from catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, donations for relief and recovery efforts have topped $200 million, with more on the way, an analysis by Foundation Center finds.

But with Hurricane Irma, already a Category 5 storm, menacing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and predicted to strike southern Florida this weekend, the country's attention — and the many tens of billions of federal assistance needed to make Harvey's victims whole — could be at risk.

To help address those needs, Hand in Hand, a one-hour telethon featuring Houston native Beyonce Knowles, Blake Shelton, Barbra Streisand, and Oprah Winfrey will be simulcast on September 12 by ABC, CBS, Fox, and CMT (Country Music Television), the Associated Press reports. The event is expected to benefit several organizations, including the United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Direct Relief, Feeding Texas, and the Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

Meanwhile, initial relief efforts generally have been praised for their effectiveness — especially when compared to the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Among disaster relief experts, however, caution is the word. "It's still too early to tell how the response to Harvey is going," said Gabor Kelen, director of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine and of the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response. "The federal, state, and local response appears to be taking a more proactive approach from previous storms of similar magnitude. We haven't been hearing the same high volume of frustration that we encountered in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."