Thousands are seeking help and rescue in Houston after now Tropical Storm Harvey slammed into the coast and caused major flooding in and around the city over the weekend.
The American Red Cross is mounting massive relief efforts in response to the storm and New Jersey volunteers answered the call over the weekend to travel to Texas and assist with medical, rescue, shelter and other efforts.
About 17 volunteers have deployed to the area as of Sunday, said Diane Concannon, Red Cross communications director for the New Jersey Region. Most of the volunteers are experienced, she said, but some are traveling out of state for a disaster call for the first time.
“For some, this is their first major deployment,” Concannon said. “They may have helped in local shelters here, but now they will be helping set up ones out of state, reporting to managers from Texas, California and elsewhere who are there to help.”
Harvey made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Friday night as a Category 4 storm near Corpus Christi, and moved northeast along the Texas coast over Houston. Hundreds of calls were made into the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday as people became stranded on their rooftops due to flooding.
Concannon said volunteers commit to staying on the deployment for at least two weeks, but can stay longer if possible. She said more waves of New Jersey disaster relief workers are expected to deploy to the area in the following weeks.
“Many have not been called yet, but are on standby, along with three emergency response vehicles,” she said. “I expect we (Red Cross) will be there for some time. Several volunteers volunteered in (Hurricane) Sandy, and others who were affected by it later joined the Red Cross to help others.”
More than 1,800 people took refuge from the deadly storm Saturday night in 34 Red Cross and community shelters in Texas, officials said. These numbers are expected to grow and dozens of additional shelters could open.
Harvey will continue to produce large amounts of rain over the next several days, Red Cross officials said in a statement. Millions of people face flash-flood warnings, including the entire Houston metro area, which is under a flash flood emergency.
The Red Cross has enough shelter supplies in Texas to support 28,000 people and supplies for an additional 22,000 people are being sent in now.
“These are really amazing people,” Concannon said. “They are always ready to go and do what they need to help.”
To support Red Cross disaster relief efforts after Harvey, visit redcross.org, call 800-733-2767 or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.