US corporate conglomerates have pledged whopping USD 170 million for disaster relief operations to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most destructivestorms in US history that killed at least 47 people.
More than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed as 42,000 people remain in shelters amid overflowing rivers and reservoirs, Texas officials said. Harvey has soaked Texas with the heaviest rainfall in US history.
Authorities continue to search for survivors and made helicopter rescues from rooftops as the death toll from Harvey climbed to at least 47. Companies have pledged USD 170 million to relief efforts as of Thursday, according to an estimate from the US Chamber of Commerce.
Fifty-two companies had donated USD 1 million or more as of that time. These figures are constantly growing as pledges continue to pour in. Tech billionaire and Houston native Michael Dell has committed USD 36 million to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The founder and CEO of Dell and his wife Susan yesterday also announced the launch of the Rebuild Texas Fund, along with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
The goal is to raise more than USD 100 million for immediate relief efforts, as well as longer-term recovery and rebuilding. "This disaster is personal to everyone who has roots in Texas," Michael and Susan Dell said in a statement."Both of us were born and raised in Texas, and the street Michael grew up on in Houston is under water now."
Companies from from energy to airlines are pitching in with Walmart pledging USD 20 million and Verizon USD 10 million, CNN reported.
"Companies are really starting to leverage their core assets so it's not just checkbook philanthropy," said Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
FedEx and UPS, for instance, have pledged USD 1 million each, including the use of their delivery networks to help orchestrate relief efforts, the report said.
Samsung split its USD 1 million commitment between cash to the Red Cross and USD 500,000 worth of washing machines, dryers and other household electronics for distribution by Texas nonprofits, it said.
JPMorgan gave USD 1 million to the Red Cross and waived late fees on mortgages and credit cards for customers affected by the storm, it said. The Chamber is tracking donation totals, DeCourcey said, but it's too soon to predict whether the corporate relief efforts for Harvey will reach the USD 1 billion milestonerecorded after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
The airlines are also getting in the act. Southwest said it plans to give five million frequent- flyer points to cover relief-related travel for the Red Cross,veterans-service organization Team Rubicon and disaster-zone staffing nonprofit All Hands Volunteers. American and United are giving bonus miles to customers who donate to selected disaster-relief organisations.