Harvey’s aftermath is devastating. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by what is being called the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history. As rain continues to fall, thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes, leaving everything they own behind and often trudging through dangerous floodwaters to reach safety. NOAA has stated that this is unlike anything they have seen before.
The American Red Cross is working day and night to help those left vulnerable by this catastrophic disaster. Access into many storm affected areas is still difficult, and the Red Cross is partnering with the United States Coast Guard and the Texas National Guard to move supplies and volunteers to where they are needed most.
To learn more about Red Cross relief efforts on the ground, take a peek inside two of our Texas shelters to see how we are helping:
Providing safety from the storm: The first priority of the Red Cross is keeping people safe while providing shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on. Preliminary estimates indicate that at least 17,000 people sought refuge in more than 45 shelters across Texas Monday night. This includes at least 8,000 evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
Serving meals and snacks: Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served nearly 30,000 meals and snacks since the storm began. Thousands of more meals will be served in the days ahead.
Supplying cots, blankets and more: We know needs will only grow from here. More than 80 tractor-trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies are now on the ground in Texas. This includes supplies to support six kitchens, each able to produce 10,000 meals a day. About 73,000 ready-to-eat meals are currently on the ground with an additional 43,000 en route.
Welcoming service animals: The Red Cross welcomes all service animals in our shelters. We know their trained support is important too.
Finding a place for our furry friends: Red Cross shelters must accommodate a wide range of people. Along with infants, children and the elderly, we may also have people with pet allergies, asthma, or other health issues, and people with a fear of animals. For the well-being of all people who turn to the Red Cross for help after a disaster, there often needs to be physical space between animals and people. Often, that means animals must be housed in a separate area from their owners. Please see information on pets and shelters in Texas.
Caring for many individuals: The Red Cross provides services to people with a wide range of needs during a disaster, and our shelter workers try to ensure that everyone who comes to the Red Cross gets the best possible help.
Supporting emotional needs amid devastation: This is a challenging and emotional time. Families and individuals that have made their way to shelters are often cold and wet, and face many uncertainties. Red Cross health services and mental health workers are present in shelters to tend to the good health and well-being of all residents. Our Red Cross mental health workers help to promote resiliency and good coping skills.
Scaling efforts to match increasing needs: Massive disasters like Hurricane Harvey create more needs than any one organization can meet on their own. We are working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and to help people as quickly as possible. This is a time for communities to come together and support one another.
You can join this humanitarian effort. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.