Local disaster relief groups go to Texas for hurricane help

Local disaster relief groups go to Texas for hurricane help (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Disaster relief agencies around the Miami Valley have been called to action to help those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

The American Red Cross and Ohio Task Force members are on their way to the Lone Star State to help. Several of those volunteers have made similar trips before, heading out to help others affected by disasters.

They have empathy for those in harms way, but also said they have a job to do and it's one they're glad to do.

Gary Clark has volunteered with the Red Cross since 2013.

"I leave at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning," he said, "and I'll be headed to Houston and I'm going to be doing damage assessment."

"I'm not sure what to expect," he continued, "because right now we're expecting all the flooding rain, they're expecting maybe up to two feet of rain."

Clark is one of at least six Red Cross workers from the Miami Valley who will be deployed to Texas to help out the hurricane victims there.

"When we deploy, we deploy for a minimum of two weeks," said Clark.

"I do deploy a lot of times but this is something else that I do," Red Cross Volunteer Carolyn Burns said.

Burns is working remotely for the Red Cross, monitoring the weather.

"And determining how far inland we need to open shelters in order to evacuate people," she said.

From her computer, she tracks the open shelters and how many are in them.

"No matter whether you're sitting here at home virtually doing this what I'm doing or whether you're there, right in front of people trying to help them, " Burns said, "it's still a rewarding experience."

Ohio Task Force One, based in Kettering, is heading to San Antonio.

"They're taking a type 3 team which is a 49 member team," Ohio Task Force One Public Information Officer Phil Sinewe said. "They take an entire cache of rescue equipment and boats with them."

Most are firefighters from Ohio and Indiana.

"Their task really for this deployment is likely to be water rescue so they have fast water rescue teams," said Sinewe.

Doctors, engineers and dog handlers are going too.

"They will get a highway patrol escort pretty much the entire way," he said. "These guys are all ready to get going and they're used to it."

Ohio Task Force One is one of 26 search and rescue teams around the country funded by FEMA, and crews have responded to help at the World Trade Center after 9-11 and the Oklahoma City Bombing.

The team should arrive in San Antonio Friday night and will stage there until they get called out for help.

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