Shawna Truong

Monday, Aug. 28, 2017

Arizona agencies send help to Hurricane Harvey victims

PHOENIX – The Phoenix area chapter of the American Red Cross has sent about 40 volunteers to Texas to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey and expects to deploy more people and resources, a spokeswoman said Monday.

“I imagine the number keeps rising, we could hit even more than 100 later down the road,” said Danielle Rudolph, a volunteer services specialist for the Phoenix area chapter of the Red Cross. “We’re sending people very often.”

St. Mary’s Food Bank, the largest in Arizona, on Monday sent a semitrailer loaded with “ready-to-eat meals and personal care items” to food banks in Texas, a spokesman said in a statement.

“With the current and forecasted weather still a major factor in Houston, the need for emergency items will continue in the coming days and weeks and St. Mary’s will respond as needed in any capacity, including relief items, transportation and food bank personnel,” spokesman Jerry Brown said.

Thousands of people are stranded as a Hurricane Harvey, later lowered to a tropical storm, lashed the Houston area. More than 450,000 people affected by floodwaters are expected to seek federal aid, according to The New York Times.

People are eager to help. Nationwide, more than 700 applications an hour are coming into the Red Cross, Rudolph said. At this point, no more Arizona volunteers are needed.

But people can help in other ways. Instead of sending food and clothes through the Red Cross they should donate online, she said. The Red Cross asks that volunteers donate financially, as they are limited in what they can accept for food and clothes.

“What we advise most is going on to and donating financially to support the folks that are being sent out, as well as the community who do need the support most,” Rudolph said.

Brown said St. Mary’s also is seeking food donations and money.

“We’re going to be distributing 30,000 pounds of food to the relief victims in Texas so we need to replenish those supplies here at the food bank,” Brown said.

The flooding in Texas will linger for weeks and months, so help will be needed for a long time.

Rudolph advised those who want to volunteer sign up for the Red Cross training program, which lasts about two weeks.

“Our training process does depend on whether you’re going to be deployed out into Houston or stay here locally,” Rudolph said.

“We’ve been working on refining our responses and our support to these large-scale disasters during what we call blue skies,” Rudolph said. “When things aren’t happening we’re ready and getting prepared.”