What is one of the biggest risks when it comes to a disaster?

Shannon Gerber: Many people don’t take the risk of disaster seriously or they believe that the warnings are overstated. We’ve seen many situations over the years where people misjudged the severity of a storm or disaster threat or just weren’t prepared. Find a reputable source to receive your information and trust their warnings and advice.

Can you tell us about your experience responding to a disaster and aiding in the recovery efforts?

The Home Depot Foundation aids communities recovering from natural disasters. We provide funding, materials and volunteer support to several national partners that specialize in disaster response. We work closely with The American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Operation Blessing and Convoy of Hope to respond to tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, earthquakes and hurricanes.

One thing that makes our response special is Team Depot, Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force. Our associates volunteer on their day off and help their neighbors rebuild and recover. They take their skills out of the aisles and into communities to give back. After tornadoes ripped through Rowlett, Texas, in January 2016, more than 100 associates worked alongside Team Rubicon to clear debris and help recover personal belongings. In August 2016, we deployed Team Depot volunteers from neighboring states into Denham Springs, Louisiana, to help homeowners who lost everything in a historic flood.

How can our readers aid in disaster recovery?

The impacts of Harvey will be unprecedented and the area will be recovering for many years. In the days and weeks immediately following a disaster of this size, the biggest thing individuals and organizations can do is give cash donations. Consider donating to a reputable nonprofit that is helping manage relief efforts. As we transition into recovery and rebuilding, consider volunteering with a group that is mobilizing teams to help homeowners clean out their homes or distribute supplies. Remember it will take years for people to rebuild, and organizations will still need your help.

What inspires you to continue aiding in recovery efforts?

People say that Team Depot and The Home Depot Foundation provide hope when they otherwise feel hopeless and helpless. We want to provide a bright spot to those who have experienced and endured so much. In times like these, we see neighbors helping neighbors and volunteers helping people they’ve never even met. The impact we can have on lives and the good it brings out in people inspires me and touches my heart.