By Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
When I began receiving e-mails from various agencies asking for volunteers for hurricane relief, I was a little confused. I didn’t recall North Texas receiving much more than rain and high winds when previous hurricanes reached the Texas shoreline, so I thought the potential damage to our area from the hurricane was out of proportion to that would actually occur.
But then I had a co-worker who moved to the Dallas–Fort Worth area when Hurricane Katrina hit her New Orleans home. I now know that the reason DFW prepares for hurricanes is to help our neighbors along the Texas Gulf Coast when a hurricane hits, and they are forced to evacuate.
To prepare for emergency evacuees, North Texas established the Mass Care Task Force (MCTF). This organization was founded in 2006 in the aftermath Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when North Texas became the safety net for evacuees from Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast. It brings together the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the North Texas Food Bank and Volunteer Now.
Each of these agencies contributes their specialty to the organization. For example, the Red Cross helps with providing shelter, food, and emotional support, and the North Texas Food Bank provides food for evacuees. The Salvation Army provides a variety of resources such as food, clothing and disaster relief. Like the other three agencies, Volunteer Now reaches out to people who want to provide hands-on help.
Although the DFW area experiences some mild weather effects when hurricanes hit the coast, we are not hard hit in comparison to the winds and rain the coastal areas receive. As a result, the North Texas region serves as the refuge for evacuees from the areas hit by hurricanes on the Texas Gulf Coast. So, when the local news mentions preparations for hurricanes, it is because volunteer agencies in North Texas are preparing for evacuees if the need arises and require local assistance.
Find out more about preparing and responding to a large scale disaster by visiting us online at http://www.redcross.org/prepare.