Wyoming Red Cross Volunteers Head To Texas For Harvey Relief
The Colorado-Wyoming region of the American Red Cross has sent 32 volunteers to Texas to help the victims of Tropical Storm Harvey, a spokesman said today.
"Ten of them are from Wyoming," Bill Fortune said.
"Our expectation is we will be sending several more from Colorado and Wyoming," Fortune said.
Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane when it moved into Texas on Friday evening, and since has stalled as a tropical storm mostly in the central area of the state with Houston being the most hard-hit.
More than 30 inches of rain have fallen and upwards of another 20 inches are expected; at least six people are reported dead; tens of thousands of people have been displaced; initial damage estimates are at least $20 billion; dispatchers have received scores of thousands of 911 calls; and Harvey is projected to move back into the Gulf of Mexico, re-energize, and possibly move into Louisiana later this week.
Emergency responders and volunteers have arrived from across the nation.
The government of Wyoming so far has not received a formal request for help, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Kelly Ruiz said today.
The Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, in partnership with the convention in Colorado, has two mobile kitchens that can feed up to 3,000 people a day, Wyoming SBC director Lynn Nikkel said. The two conventions are on standby and are recruiting volunteers when they receive a call to go, he said.
Fortune said the Red Cross was already mobilizing before Harvey made landfall, and has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the corresponding Texas agency, and other nonprofits such as the Southern Baptist Convention. About 2,000 volunteers nationwide are there now, and hundreds more are expected to arrive as the disaster continues this week.
So far, the Red Cross has opened 30 shelters so far in the Houston area, he said.
"We also sent five of our emergency response vehicles," Fortune said. "They're the large vehicles we use to get into neighborhoods to provide them with warm meals or supplies for cleanup and things like that."
Despite the massive assistance efforts, getting there has been difficult because airports and other transportation infrastructure are closed, Fortune said. Some areas are so flooded that first responders have not been able to enter some neighborhoods, he added.
The effects of Harvey will be felt for a long time as people will need shelter and financial assistance, Fortune said.
"It's been tough, it's still tough, and it's going to be rough for the next weeks and months go back to their homes and realize they have nothing left," Fortune said.
If you want to help, you can do the following:
- Donate money directly to the Red Cross, and designate it to Harvey relief. The Red Cross has a "click, call or text" program: Go to redcross.org and click "donate"; call 1-800-RED-CROSS and donate; or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation that will show up on your next phone bill.
- As trained volunteers head to Texas, you can volunteer on a local level to do their daily work, such as helping a family after a home fire. Call the Casper office at 237-8436.
- Donate blood. Many blood drives are canceled and donor centers are closed due to Harvey. United Blood Services is calling for donations, especially type O. Visit bloodhero.com or call 877-827-4376 to schedule an appointment at our Cheyenne or Casper donor centers or at a mobile blood drive. Walk-ins are welcome.
- To donate to the Southern Baptist Convention's relief efforts, visit namb.net and click on "give now."
For information on giving wisely, go to the Better Business Bureau's website for suggested charities and tips for avoiding scammers.