As Hurricane Harvey nears land, the American Red Cross is mounting a massive relief effort ahead of the most deadly and devastating hurricane forecast to strike the United States in over a decade.
As of Friday afternoon, five people from the American Red Cross of Maine were deploying to Texas to assist in the relief effort.
“I’m anxious to get down there and do what I can to help. Not everybody gets to do something like this,” said Ruth Lathrop, a 69-year-old volunteer from Windham who expects her duties to be in feeding or in a disaster shelter.
This is the second deployment for Lathrop. Last year, she was on a team for an emergency response vehicle used for feeding after flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“The people were so grateful. They had no way of preparing food, no way of keeping food. We showed up with hot meals. They were hugging us, crying. They could not thank us enough,” Lathrop said. “It was the most incredible experience you can have.”
Lathrop expects to fly out of Portland on Saturday morning and arrive in Texas in the afternoon.
Three other Maine volunteers – from Aroostook, Penobscot and Knox counties – are also deploying. A Red Cross employee from Androscoggin County is also headed to assist.
Hurricane Harvey is slated for landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast with over 100 mph winds and up to 35 inches of rain, leading to devastating and life-threatening flooding. Tornadoes are also possible. The storm is expected to hover over parts of Texas and Louisiana for several days.
The Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers, 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 – are scheduled to arrive in Texas.
More than 40 Red Cross emergency response vehicles are activated with more on alert. The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners in both Texas and Louisiana to coordinate potential response efforts.