By Brian Wise
The American Red Cross has been busy the past few weeks helping residents of Texas and surrounding states recover from severe weather, including flooding that hit many communities. Red Cross volunteers helped in many ways, including supporting shelters, distributing food and water and keeping affected residents informed.
Volunteers from Western Colorado have been deployed to provide disaster recovery assistance in Texas. Thousands of people living there have been affected by severe thunderstorms, wind, tornadoes and relentless rainfall causing widespread flooding throughout Texas.
The American Red Cross pulled members from all over the country to help and provide services in one of the most complex events to occur since Superstorm Sandy. While people in Texas were doing their best to recover from the devastation, they were reassured that help was on the way.
Six volunteers from the American Red Cross of Western Colorado were deployed to different areas of Texas to help people who were affected by the flooding. Some volunteers helped either by providing health services, client casework or delivering meals to the thousands that were impacted. Courtney Strother, disaster program specialist for the American Red Cross of Western Colorado, was one of those that spent two weeks providing disaster relief. Strother said, “You don’t really understand the devastation until you see it first-hand because pictures don’t really do it justice.”
When Strother arrived in Texas she began working out of the New Braunfels, Texas, district office. She was assigned to disaster assessment and worked on identifying areas in the community that were impacted and how severely they were affected. In the area, she saw that trees were completely bent over or yanked out of the ground and houses that were knocked off their foundation or even turned over.
“We are serving many communities out of this area, including two of the hardest hit areas, Wimberley and San Marcos,” Strother said. The American Red Cross focused on providing a delivery site for bulk distribution of clean-up materials, feeding and client casework to provide financial assistance to those displaced.
Although it has been the rainiest month in Texas, the American Red Cross is actively helping and is sending more volunteers to relieve current ones.
While the American Red Cross is making their volunteer transitions, volunteer organizations from all over the world have been helping to clean up for those who were affected by the flooding.
“Seeing all of this can be a bit overwhelming, but it also allows you to see communities working together to clean up and help each other through the recovery process, which is a great experience to be involved with,” Strother said.
Brian Wise is a public-affairs volunteer for the Red Cross in Western Colorado. Reach him at Brian.Wise@Redcross.org or 242-6640.