Colorado floods: How to help

Many organizations are already trying to find ways to help thousands of Coloradans affected by this past week's deadly flooding — by setting up relief funds, coordinating volunteers and dispersing supplies.

Local, national and state organizations are all teaming up to provide a range of services, but Heather Spencer of Foothills United Way said people should be weary of fraud.

“People want to help and they have great intentions but they need to do a little bit of homework before they donate,” she said. “Scammers are out there all over the place.”

Here are some of the legitimate ways you can help:

  • NBC News has set up a Facebook group for people to share information and stories out of the tragic flooding.
  • Foothills United Way The Foothills Flood Relief Fund launched on Sept. 13 in response to the unfolding disaster in Colorado. All of the money donated is going directly to people affected by the floods, according to Heather Spencer, the communications manager of Foothills United Way. The fund is focusing on Boulder and Broomfield counties, where the organization is located. It will work with local and state officials to determine what people’s needs are and partner with the appropriate organizations. The Boulder Community Foundation is matching up to $50,000 of donations.
  • Help Colorado Now is a collaboration between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster that pairs donations with survivor’s needs. They have compiled a list of reputable organizations for people to donate money, which it says is the most effective way to help. The site also has several lists to organize volunteers and materials needed — like food, water and clothing.
  • Colorado chapters of the American Red Cross: Since the floods started last week, the Red Cross and its partners have provided shelter to more than 1,600 people, served more than 7,000 meals and helped affected residents find the proper health and mental health professionals, according to its website. There are currently eight operating shelters across the state to help those that have been displaced. The Red Cross is accepting financial donations for relief and recovery, but is directing any small donations to Help Colorado Now.
  • Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is providing food and shelter to five of the hardest-hit counties in Colorado. Across the state, it has distributed thousands of meals to displaced people, emergency responders and law enforcement in affected areas. The Fort Collins shelter will remain open for 30 to 90 days.
  • All Hands Volunteers:  Three All Hands Volunteers employees visited Boulder last week and reported the flood damage covers a wide swath of Colorado. As a non-profit volunteer organization, AHV is organizing volunteers to launch a project in Colorado when it deems the area safe. The organization is asking for both monetary donations and volunteers to support its immediate efforts to help people evacuate and its upcoming effort to help areas recover.