San Diego Organizations and Agencies Aid Texas

August 31, 2017

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Texas National Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion work alongside first responders from Texas Task Force One and the Cypress Creek Fire Department to rescue local citizens from severe flooding in Cypress Creek, August 28, 2017. Soldiers, fire fighters, paramedics and neighbors ensured more than 1,000 people and hundreds of dogs and cats were safe, evacuating them to dry ground and local shelters. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

San Diego organizations and agencies offered aid to those affected by the extreme flooding of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, which has displaced more than 30,000 Texans so far and cost the lives of at least 40 individuals, by providing rescue teams, volunteers, and more.

Last week, 24 members of San Diego Fire-Rescue were deployed to Texas as part of Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 8, a team made up of 21 agencies from around San Diego County that respond to all types of disasters as members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A spokesperson for San Diego Fire-Rescue said the team was originally sent to Fort Worth but was redirected to Houston then San Antonio, and because the situation is dynamic they will go where they are needed.

Program manager for the team Battalion Chief Dave Gerboth said they anticipate having at least a 14-day deployment but have experienced 28 days of deployment during 9/11 in New York City.

“We’re self-sufficient for at least five days with food (and) water so we can support ourselves and prepare to be there as long as we need to,” Gerboth said during a press conference on Aug. 27.

The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties has deployed 12 local volunteers to Texas and Louisiana and has 11 “virtual volunteers” in San Diego staffing virtual call centers, according to a spokesperson.

San Diego pet shelters, like Rancho Coastal Humane Society and Labradors and Friends Dog Rescue, took in more than 80 dogs and 20 cats from a shelter in Lafayette, Louisiana. The animals were flown in by Wings of Rescue, a charity that files endangered pets to no-kill shelters, on Monday, Aug. 28.

“Our amazing volunteers were there to help unload, organize, clean up and take our dogs to fosters and a few to boarding,” Labradors and Friends Dog Rescue shared on their Facebook page on Monday.

The conditions in Texas have worsened over the last couple of days leaving many people wondering where they can seek refuge and questioning what will happen once the storm is over.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which coordinated the federal government’s role in responding to natural disasters among other disaster, released that more than 17 federal agencies and departments are working together to respond to the damages from Hurricane Harvey.

“We are striving for a new normal here but FEMA is with you,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said during a press conference on Monday.

He also added that one of their goals is to make sure that Texans have access to necessities.

“There is a reality that we have to come to grips with and that is we are just beginning the process of responding to the storm,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said during a press conference Monday. “We are still involved in the search and rescue process, our number one goal from Corpus Christi all the way from east of Houston is still protecting and preserving life and rescuing every life we find.”

The San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan released a statement on Thursday, Aug. 31, warning residents to be careful when donating to charities that claim they will provide help to victims of Harvey.

“We have such a caring community in San Diego County that wants to help those in need during a crisis, like this latest natural disaster that’s taking such a toll in Texas and Louisiana,” Stephan said in the statement. “Unfortunately, some people use times of crisis to take advantage of others. People who want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey by donating to charities can protect themselves from scammers by watching out for red flags.”

The DA’s office recommends doing research to avoid being scammed.

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