As Harvey continues to deluge Texas, people outside evacuation zones are mobilizing to assist their fellow Texans forced from their homes or stranded while the flood waters continue to rise.
“Although these Texans have suffered a great hardship, their warmth and resiliency is truly inspiring,” Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday. “The true heart of Texas is its people, and through this very trying time, I have no doubt we will emerge stronger than ever. These amazing families are a much needed reminder of the Texas spirit as we battle this storm.”
A Fire-Rescue Swift Water Rescue Team deployed from Gainsville, Texas, last week, part of a statewide urban search and rescue response team headquartered in College Station. Sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, TX-TF1 has members from more than 60 agencies and companies throughout Texas, according to its website.
Many such first responders have deployed with various search-and-rescue teams around the state.
Cleburne, Texas, Fire Chief Clint Ishmael said he is proud his department is able to assist in relief efforts.
“The people of Cleburne have a can-do reputation and are well-known for lending a helping hand when in need,” he said. “The fire department is an extension of the community. Cleburne firefighters are proud to represent the people of this community as they work to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.”
Former Cleburne Police Department Cpl. Bryan Proctor is working with a private national security company to send law enforcement officers to the coast to secure areas affected by the storm. The officers are volunteering on their own time, off-duty.
“We gather those officers up who want to volunteer, make a team and send them down there for three days,” he said. “Our first team is coming back and they worked 36 hours straight, not including driving time.”
You don’t have to be specially trained to give back, though.
In Burleson, Texas, a local ministry is collecting basic necessities such as diapers and laundry detergent for evacuees staying at nearby hotels and shelters. The First United Methodist Church of Cleburne, Texas, is collecting donations to create health kits with bandages, soap and basic linens.
“These will help families — who cannot even bathe right now — begin to clean up,” said Beverly Doran, director of the children’s ministry at FUMC.
Communities like Corsicana, Texas, are holding blood drives to bolster hospital and first aid reservoirs across the state.
Other Texans are using their recreational vehicles to give back. TCMW Off-Road Recovery, a volunteer group with more than 4,000 members on Facebook, offers authorities assistance with their four-wheel drive vehicles in water rescues or evacuations
“We work closely with local law enforcement,” said Amy Smith, a Tomball, Texas, resident and TCMW administrator. “Sometimes they get overwhelmed by 911 calls for rescue, so we jump in where we can to help.”
The American Red Cross has mobilized hundreds of trained disaster relief workers, truckloads of kitchen supplies and tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals to support the response effort.
“This is the time for folks to come together to support one another,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster services operations and logistics for the Red Cross. “We are launching our largest hurricane relief effort in years, and with the help of our partners, we are ready to shelter thousands of people.”
Forty-two mobile kitchens and two field kitchens have been deployed by The Salvation Army in Texas, each with the capability of serving an average of 1,500 meals per day.