by Jennifer Hansen, American Red Cross Regional Marketing Specialist
Grey skies are on the horizon along the Texas Gulf coast. What started as a benign low pressure system off the southeastern coast of Mexico has strengthened into Hurricane Harvey, a formidable storm projected to swell to a dangerous Category 3 by the time it rumbles onto the Texas shore late Friday.
Compared to many other disasters, like tornadoes, hurricanes typically provide ample warning well before impact, often 24+ hours. Meteorologists and news teams track a storm’s every move, variation in pressure, wind speed, direction, and moisture. They deliver factual, and frequently dire, predictions of estimated damage, alerting the millions within its path to seek safety.
In Harvey’s case, Texans from Corpus Christi to the Houston area are bracing for a wet welcome, with up to an estimated 20″ of rainfall expected to deluge the area. Powerful winds in excess of 115 mph, embedded squalls, and a strong possibility of catastrophic flooding. Needless to say, a massive storm that gives advanced warning of its arrival requires an equally powerful and effective response.
The Red Cross Responds
The American Red Cross has already activated response efforts. Assets, both material and human, are mobilizing for deployment to the impacted areas. Shelters across the state are prepping to receive residents that have had to evacuate their homes; Emergency Response Vehicles, including two from Fort Worth, are fueled and stocked with supplies and volunteers standing-by to respond. Thousands of cots, blankets, bottles of water and meals are ready to provide a dose of comfort to those displaced by Harvey. In combination with local government and Mass Care Task Force partners including, the Salvation Army, Volunteer Now, and the North Texas Foodbank, the Red Cross is ready to respond at a moments notice. The Red Cross will work through the duration of the storm, and beyond, to offer support and resources where needed.
An Opportunity to Prepare
The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly applicable in a hurricane situation, and the days leading up to landfall provide the perfect opportunity to stay Weather Aware and prepare:
- Tune in regularly to the National Weather Service or NOAA for the latest storm updates, as well as your local news station.
- Be prepared to evacuate quickly by packing a bag and filling your gas tank now. Know your evacuation routes, alternative routes and destinations.
- Prepare your Emergency Kit including water, food, medicine, batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit and a weather radio. Find a comprehensive list here.
- Download the Red Cross Emergency App, free and available for both iPhone and Android devices
- Familiarize yourself with Red Cross Safe and Well, a program designed to restore peace of mind to loved ones and family by letting them know you are safe.
A Texas-sized Storm
While the North Texas Region is not within the main impact zone, we’re not out of the woods, either. While the area won’t see the massive flooding and winds predicted for the Texas coast, the DFW metroplex and surrounding areas are forecast to receive heavy rain throughout the weekend and early next week, with a risk for localized flooding in low-lying areas. The Red Cross is preparing shelters in DFW for possible evacuees, and urging the community to also stay Weather Aware and prepared. Tune into local weather reports, prepare an emergency kit, and have a plan in place should you need to evacuate.
Help the Red Cross Help Others
The Red Cross relies on donations and volunteers to make their mission a reality, and your help allows us to help others. The most effective way for the public to make an immediate impact before, during, and after a disaster event is through a financial gift to the Red Cross:
- Donate $10 automatically by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999
- Donate or enroll to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org