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Pennsylvania sends help to Harvey victims

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Aug 29, 2017 6:49 AM
Houston_victims_harvey.jpg

Flood victims wait to unload from the back of a heavy duty truck after being evacuated from their homes as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise yesterday in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Undated) --  A York Bus company, a search-and-rescue team and the American Red Cross in Pennsylvania are sending help to Texas communities ravaged by Hurricane Harvey.

The Salvation Army is recruiting volunteers to help in the Gulf Coast. 

It's the beginning of a prolonged response.

Communities will be under water for weeks and perhaps a month or more, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio. Power will remain out for several weeks until it is safe for crews to repair the lines.

"They are talking a couple of years for recovery in the Houston area," said Major Leslie Walter, commander of the Chambersburg Salvation Army.

"It's still raining. It never stops," Houston resident Philip Steinthal said by phone at 11 a.m. Texas time on Monday. "That's what's scary. It (the street) has stopped draining. I am looking at the forecast, and there's a 100 percent chance of rain until 11 p.m."

Steinthal lives on the high ground in the western part of Houston. He had lived in Fayetteville, when he attended Shippensburg University in the 1970s.

His neighborhood bayou, once 20 feet wide, has swollen to 100 feet across. On Monday morning it was still 4 feet below its banks.

"It's not out of its banks yet," Steinthal said. "We're the lucky ones. There's been no power outage in our area. I can't drive out of the neighborhood. It's all flooded. The water treatment plant is flooded."

He and his wife knew the flood was coming and on Thursday stocked up on food and water. The bathtub is full, and they have cases of spring water. The outside grill is in a safe place just in case the electricity goes out. They've learned from Rita and Katrina.

"We've been living in Houston for 20 years," he said. "When a hurricane happens in Houston you have to be prepared. In the last five years we've had one million new inhabitants in Houston. These people don't know how bad it can be."

Bailey Trailways in York sent three buses to Texas on Monday and accepted relief supplies to carry on the buses.

"The images coming out of Texas are heartbreaking and difficult to imagine," Gov. Tom Wolf said. "We know that this will be a long-term response and recovery effort, and Pennsylvania stands ready to provide whatever help we can to citizens and first responders in Texas or any other state impacted by the storm."

Wolf sent 45 members of PA Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue Task Force from Philadelphia to Fort Worth, Texas, to help with water rescue and search-and-rescue efforts. The team, one of 21 established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is composed of heavy rigging and structural specialists and personnel trained in hazardous materials and specialized communications as well as medical staff, support staff and canine handlers.

The eastern Pennsylvania region the Salvation Army is to fly out its first deployment, weather permitting, on Wednesday from Philadelphia, according to Robert Myers III, emergency disaster services director for the Salvation Army in eastern Pennsylvania. Volunteers are coming from as far away as southern Delaware and State College. More deployments will follow in the weeks to come.

The American Red Cross in central Pennsylvania has sent or assigned 10 volunteers to the area, according Kim Maiolo, Central Pennsylvania Region Director of Communications.

"We're thankful for the dedication of volunteers who are willing to help those in need," she said.

Nationally, the Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained disaster relief workers, and truckloads of kitchen supplies as well as tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals to support this response effort. Trailers full of shelter supplies including cots and blankets -- enough to support more than 20,000 people -- were sent.

Rainfall could top 4 feet in some parts of the Gulf Coast before the storm is expected to dissipate later this week.

Donations for Harvey victims 

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. To help people affected by Hurricane Harvey visit www.redcross.org, call 1- 800-RED CROSS or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from the disaster.

The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate a donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on www.redcross.org or at 1-800-RED CROSS. Ensure the donation will go to a specific disaster by writing the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. Donors also should fill in and mail the donation form on www.redcross.org with a check.

The eastern division of the Salvation Army is preparing to deploy volunteers to the Gulf Coast. For more information about volunteering your time, visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or email EPAdisasterservices@use.salvationarmy.org. Volunteers must pass a background check and be trained. The introductory course is to be available online for anyone who is a new volunteer. Background checks can be expedited.

The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations, but not in-kind donations - such as clothing or furniture -- at this time for the Harvey relief effort.

 

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

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