Recovery: Moving Beyond Harvey Towards Normal (whatever that may become)

By Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks

After over a week of nonstop news and weather obsession, the Rockport, Houston and Beaumont/Port Arthur areas are beginning to move into a long, slow and painful recovery phase. We are all reading everywhere of the devastation, and not all flooding is resolved even as I write. As the flood waters continue to recede, our students need us more than ever as librarians with compassion who can read aloud and offer information to families needing support. But there are many devastated libraries, too – and the Aransas IndependentSchool District has closed indefinitely. Other campuses in hard-hit districts will be shuffling students among undamaged campuses. Librarians have been personally impacted in their homes and extended families, even as they want to work to support the students they will meet when schools open.

So, here are some resources that may be of use.

Hurricane Harvey Bookclub began as a Facebook page where folks could post videos of someone reading aloud from a favorite children’s book. The idea was to offer a chance for anyone of any age to offer creative support to K-12 students who may be stuck in shelters for an indefinite period. Now it has been continued as a Twitter Feed. Follow @HurricaneHarveyBC to join in! Even your students can participate! And anyone with an internet connection can enjoy the pleasant respite of a book being read aloud, and the comfort that comes with that from the reader(s).

If you need tips on support techniques with stressed students, the American School Counselor Association offers Helping Kids Deal With Hurricanes/Floods

Author Kate Messner has opened a GoogleForm to fill out if you lost books to Hurricane Harvey and would welcome new book donations.

Or perhaps you or your students from other parts of TX want to support a specific school classroom – or library – with a donation. Or you manage a library in need of help. Check out for information about supporting a specific library classroom or about listing your library. There are people across the US who will step up – your student’s far flung families included.

And there is Principals Helping Principals for schools affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Houston ISD is offering for this year three free meals a day to ALL K-12 students, given that so many area families lost everything in the storm. Likely other districts will do the same. Hunger and homelessness will be bigger issues than usual. You might also support the Houston or other area food banks. The Houston Food Bank is offering a program to send kids home with a backpack of food for a weekend; that will fill the gap the schools can’t.

If you live in the Houston area and have time to volunteer, or resources to offer to a shelter, Where you can do the most good is a live map showing where shelters are and exactly what support or resources they need right now. My guess is that coverage will expand to include other shelters in affected areas beyond metro Houston.

And finally, not least but more long term, the Texas Library Association offers a wealth of disaster related resources on their website. There is also the TLA Disaster Relief fund which is both accepting donations and requests for help

If you need books with more depth on any disaster recovery topics, look at
  • Kaaland, Christie. Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery in School Libraries: Creating a Safe Haven. (Libraries Unlimited, 2014). this book has large sections on how to help kids deal with disasters such as loss of home, separation, even loss of pets. 
  • Halsted, Deborah D., Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery: A How-to Manual for Librarians. (ALA, 2014)
TASLTalks will continue to offer support resources as we discover more. Above all, know that the community of school librarians - well, all librarians - stands together for the benefit of students and families of Texas. Recovery is beginning; we can make it happen.

Do you have any resources you know of to aid libraries in recovery? Add your thoughts to the comments.


  1. Dorcas, thank you for sharing these excellent resources. I'm so glad that the TXASLTALKS postings are archived, because I have a feeling we will all need to refer to this list again at some point in the future -- if not for hurricanes and floods, then for any other number of natural disasters that seem to be increasing at an alarming rate.

    I wanted to add one more resource that Wendy Woodland from the TLA Office shared widely last week. Wendy sent out information on the TEXAS LIBRARY RECOVERY CONNECTION ( I'm going to share her text below, so that TXASLTALKS readers will have the information straight from TLA:

    "The Texas Library Association developed the Texas Library Recovery Connection, an online information sharing system to help connect those offering assistance to libraries in need.

    The Google spreadsheet ,
    similar to those developed by other grassroots groups, is a tool where librarians and library supporters can enter pertinent information.

    There are two worksheets in the Google spreadsheet - one for libraries needing assistance, and one for companies/organizations and others offering assistance. Our hope is that this simple information sharing system will help connect those offering assistance to libraries in need."
    **NOTE: Access the two worksheets from tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet screen.**

    Many thanks to TLA and to TXASLTALKS for providing resource possibilities in the time of crisis and need.