In the last five days, Hurricane Harvey has set records for rainfall and left at least 30 people dead, with thousands more stranded or homeless.

In the face of such immense devastation, it can be tempting to despair. But as Catholics, we can be a beacon of hope to our suffering brothers and sisters.

Here are three ways that you can bring hope to the victims of Hurricane Harvey:


Pray – As Catholics, we believe prayer is real and efficacious. Whether it’s a rosary, a Mass, or an hour in adoration, prayer is something that anyone can offer, regardless of their financial situation or geographical location.

Donate – Catholic Charities is on the ground in Houston, Corpus Christi and other hard-hit areas, offering immediate relief and long-term recovery support. Collections for Catholic Charities will be taken during Sunday Masses in many dioceses across the country. Donations can also be made online or by texting “CCUSADISASTER” to 71777. The Knights of Columbus and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are also accepting donations to help with relief efforts.

Volunteer – If you live in an area affected by the storm, you may be able to volunteer your time to relief and recovery efforts. Be smart, though, as many flooded areas are still treacherous, and authorities are warning that untrained volunteers may endanger themselves and those they are trying to help. Many of the damage assessment and recovery efforts will begin more fully after the flood waters have receded.

If you don’t live near the gulf, you can still help out. Maybe you know someone from the area, or someone who has loved ones there. They may be worried about their family and friends, or emotionally devastated by the pictures of the flooding and destruction in their hometown. Reaching out with a card, a meal, or simply a listening ear can go a long way in helping them find peace.

You can also donate blood at your local Red Cross anywhere in the United States, and victims of Harvey may be able to receive it.

While news from Harvey is dominating the headlines right now, the news cycle will eventually move on. But experts say it will take years to fully rebuild the hardest-hit areas. When the cameras have left and the national focus turns elsewhere, the people in Houston and the surrounding areas will still need our help. In the months to come, don’t forget them in your prayers and donations as they work to rebuild their homes and lives.