This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-09-04 at 1:28 p.m.
The permanent URL for this article is: http://tidbits.com/article/17435
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The Tech Community’s Response to Hurricane Harvey

by Josh Centers

The recovery from Hurricane Harvey is just beginning for Houston and surrounding areas, and the tech community is coming together to help out.

First of all, we’d like to say “Hi!” to our friends in the Houston Area Apple Users Group [1], and wish everyone down there well. They’ve definitely been in our thoughts this past week.

In a letter to employees [2], Apple CEO Tim Cook expounded on Apple’s hurricane relief efforts:

As you know, Hurricane Harvey is having a devastating impact on Texas and Louisiana. Our thoughts are with our employees in the storm zone and the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted by rain, wind and floods. I want to update you on some of the things Apple has been doing to help, and ways that you can get involved.

On the ground, Apple’s global crisis management team is working to support our employees directly affected by the flooding in Texas. The team is in close contact with Apple employees in the Houston area, and they’re actively doing everything they can to assist, including moving some employees and their families to safety. Apple employees in the Houston area have generously been helping people displaced by the flooding by opening their homes to team members and their families, and in some cases, assisting in rescue operations. We’re also proud that the U.S. Coast Guard is using Apple products in those efforts, with nearly two dozen USCG helicopters specially equipped with iPads to help coordinate search and rescue teams.

As Harvey was making landfall, we put in motion critical donation programs. Apple is making it easy for customers to donate directly to the American Red Cross through the App Store, iTunes and apple.com, and we’re matching employee donations two-for-one. Thanks to your generosity and that of our users, Apple has helped raise more than $1 million in just the past few days. That’s in addition to the $2 million Apple pledged to the Red Cross over the weekend.

Though our stores in the Houston area are still closed today, we’re working hard to get as many as possible open tomorrow to serve people who have been impacted by the storm. Our teams are eager to help with problems large and small, and they know there are lots of people in that area who need it.

I was in Austin the day before Harvey came ashore, and the team was already bracing for the storm and the long recovery. Today that work continues. At our Austin campuses, we are kicking off a donation drive in partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank and Caffè Macs to collect food, diapers and personal hygiene items — all things that are critical in the aftermath of a storm of this magnitude.

Because Texas is home to more than 8,700 of our coworkers, the storm’s impact is felt by all of us. There’s still much to do, and Apple is committed to help.

Apple is collecting donations for the Red Cross in iTunes, as it often has in the past, but it’s not always easy to find. In iTunes on the Mac, you can donate from the Store (or App Store) tab in any of the categories (Music, Movies, App Store, etc.) In the iTunes app for iOS, you can find the link in the Music, Movies, and TV Show screens, under the Featured tab.

[image link] [3]

You may find it easier to donate to the Red Cross by simply texting REDCROSS to 90999 [4], which will automatically send them $10, charged to your phone bill.

If you have misgivings about the Red Cross’s efficacy (you’re not alone [5]), you may be interested in Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt’s record-smashing crowdfunding campaign on YouCaring [6], which has raised over $15 million for Houston; the campaign was originally hoping to raise $200,000!

Data recovery firm DriveSavers is also pitching in, by offering free data recovery [7] to victims of Hurricane Harvey until 15 September 2017. They also offer some useful data safety tips [8] on their blog. (Pro tip: putting a soaked device in dry rice isn’t the panacea [9] you might think it is!)

Unfortunately, Houston isn’t the only place with flooding troubles. On the other side of the globe, over 41 million people in South Asia are experiencing monsoon-induced flooding [10] that has killed over 1000 people. And another hurricane may have its eye on the United States too, since Hurricane Irma is on its way to Florida [11].

For those in areas susceptible to weather disasters, Apple has been curating a list of helpful apps in the iOS App Store, but apps may not be the best things to have on hand in case of emergency. We’d instead steer you to the Sweethome’s list of best emergency preparedness supplies [12]. What’s great is that the Sweethome is donating all earnings from that guide for September and October to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, so you can prepare your family and help people in Houston at the same time.

Stay safe out there.

[1]: http://haaug.org/
[2]: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanmac/heres-what-apple-ceo-tim-cook-had-to-say-about-hurricane
[3]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-09/Red-Cross-iTunes.png
[4]: http://www.redcross.org/donations/ways-to-donate/text-mail-phone#Donate-By-Text
[5]: http://www.newsweek.com/red-cross-harvey-relief-numbers-troubling-trend-657542
[6]: https://www.youcaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053
[7]: https://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/2017/08/30/drivesavers-offers-hurricane-harvey-victims-free-data-recovery-of-wet-phones-and-hard-drives/
[8]: https://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/2017/08/28/drivesavers-advice-for-hurricane-harvey-victims/
[9]: https://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/2016/07/07/wet-smartphone-to-rice-or-not-to-rice/
[10]: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/asia/floods-south-asia-india-bangladesh-nepal-houston.html
[11]: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/31/us/hurricane-irma-forecast-weather/
[12]: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/emergency-preparedness/