As Harvey makes landfall for a second time, travel brands are reaching out to help victims of the devastating flooding caused by the storm.
The Washington Post reports that the storm made landfall for a second time in Louisiana Wednesday morning as a tropical storm. The National Weather Service has warned that the storm could continue to bring “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” to an area from Houston eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week. Heavy rains will spread northeast from Louisiana into western Kentucky, which could cause additional flash flooding. By Tuesday afternoon the storm had flooded between 25 and 30 percent of Harris County, which includes Houston and its near suburbs, an area potentially as large as New York City and Chicago combined. At least 22 deaths have been blamed on the storm, although that number could be revised upward in the coming days as authorities are able to enter flooded homes and cars. An estimated 30,000 people could be forced from their homes in Texas and neighboring states.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Southeast Texas and all those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “We stand ready to assist our member companies and their staff in the affected communities as they recover from this terrible natural disaster.”
Kerby said that ASTA’s Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) sets aside up to $40,000 per year in ASTAPAC Charitable Matching funds to allow ASTA chapters and individuals that reach PAC fundraising goals to support the charity of their choice. ASTA is urging its members and chapters who have not yet redeemed those funds to direct them to the appropriate local charities supporting the Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as to work through Tourism Cares.
Carnival Cruise Line, its parent company, Carnival Corporation, and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation are pledging a minimum of $2 million to relief and rebuilding efforts in the wake o the hurricane. Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Carnival Corporation, are each donating $500,000 to Harvey disaster relief efforts, for a total donation of $1 million from the company. Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine are matching the corporation’s commitment with a $1 million donation from the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation.
Additionally, guests sailing on certain Carnival Cruise Line cruises will have the option to make a donation when they check in for their cruise. The corporation’s brands and employees will also be participating.
Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Corp. also report that they are working with emergency authorities to identify the most urgent needs for the donated funds.
Tourism Cares reports that it is in contact with travel and tourism industry officials assessing the damage and recovery efforts. The organization has released a statement advising those interested in donating to help with the disaster to give to more than one charity, and to recovery as well as relief, as recovery efforts can be far longer and harder than the initial relief period. The organization has also released some options to consider for charitable donations:
- For relief: the Central Texas Red Cross and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
- For relief and children: Save the Children is working with families and disaster shelters, and Driscoll Children’s Hospital was in the path of the hurricane and will have needs as well.
- For recovery and local support: stay in touch with Tourism Cares and also local destination marketing organizations and CVBs, as well as the Mayor’s relief fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is also a resource.
- For a personal focus on recovery: think of your favorite causes, whether it be the environment, health care or education. A major disaster spawns needs across the community and you can focus your help on an area of interest you already have.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reports that nearly 600 GBTA and Texas BTA members live in the impacted areas. The GBTA has set up a GoFundMe campaign to aid them.
United Airlines reports that it will provide up to three million bonus miles to MilagePlus loyalty members who donate to partnered disaster relief organizations. The airline will also match the first $100,000 raised. Miles will be awarded based on the size of the donation:
- Donate $50-$99 – Earn 250 bonus miles
- Donate $100-$249 – Earn 500 bonus miles
- Donate $250 or more – Earn 1,000 bonus miles
MileagePlus members can give to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Airlink or Operation USA through United's fundraising page to receive the bonus miles.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts reports that El Dorado Spa Resorts, Generations Riviera Maya, and Hidden Beach by Karisma are offering guests impacted by the hurricane complimentary extended stays. Any guest currently staying on-property at those resorts whose flight has been cancelled due to airport closures and/or storm conditions can stay until a flight home is available.
Ops still suspended. Water has receded on roads. JFK open; Will Clayton open to McKay; HPD onsite to direct traffic. https://t.co/1mvtirRQ1p— Houston Bush Airport (@iah) August 30, 2017
With operations at Houston-area airports still suspended, airlines are continuing to offer flight waivers to those impacted by the storm.
United Airlines customers booked through September 12 can rebook for new flights departing through November 15 in the same cabin between the same city pair. For those rebooking new flights that depart after November 15, United will waive the change fee, but a difference in fare may apply.
American Airlines customers who bought their ticket by August 28 and are scheduled to travel through September 7 can rebook through September 20 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference).
Delta customers scheduled to fly through September 7 can rebook through September 20 for new flights to depart no later than that day.
Southwest Airlines customers booked to fly through September 12 can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original departure date between the same city pair.
Finally, JetBlue customers booked through September 5 can rebook for travel through September 15.