Though now downgraded from its hurricane status by the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Depression Harvey has done incredible damage in Texas, carrying with it record-breaking rainfall and devastating floods that took lives and left businesses and homes under feet of water.
“This is, in my career, the most catastrophic event I have seen,” said Brad Kieserman, who is coordinating disaster relief efforts in Texas for the Red Cross, according to the Washington Post. “The hurricane came in. It brought all of these winds and storm surge and rain and now we’re going to deal with 50 inches of flooding, basically turning the entire southeast portion of the state into an inland lake.”
As of Wednesday, 38 deaths related to the storm have been recorded. More than 32,000 Texans are seeking shelter in relief zones, and another 210,000 evacuees have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Celebrities and brands have taken to their social media accounts to plead for disaster relief donations. The latest to heed the call is Austin, Texas-based cooler company YETI.
“As a Texas company, the gulf coast community and environment is near and dear to our hearts," says YETI CEO Matt Reintjes. "There are so many people in need and we have the chance to rally the YETI family in support of them. Our thoughts go out to all those along the gulf coast and in Houston.”
On Friday, September 1, YETI will donate 100 percent of flagship store and online retail sales to Harvey relief efforts. Proceeds from Friday will be split between the American Red Cross and the Operation BBQ Relief. Both organizations are dedicated to providing necessities to victims of the storm and supply food, clothing, and shelter to those in need. However, given the criticism of Red Cross’ past relief efforts, many people looking to help out are hesitant to send funds to the organization. For that reason, YETI included grassroots non-profit Operation BBQ Relief, which launched in 2011 as a way to help feed families displaced by the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Since then, Operation BBQ Relief has responded to 30 disasters in 18 different states and served over 703,000 meals.
“As a small nonprofit, we are able to act quickly after disasters strike, often cooking within hours of the tragedy,” founder Stan Hays says on the BBQ Beat site. “We are a stop gap. Once the churches, civic groups, and large-box nonprofits get their feet under them to start feeding the communities, we are generally... ready to say goodbye. This means we may be in a community for 48 hours or 12 days, depending on the size of the disaster.”
If there was ever a time to talk yourself into buying a cooler priced well into the hundreds, it’s now. Just one cooler or accessory purchase will provide hundreds of hot meals or blankets to those who need it most.