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Red Cross: Volunteers Needed For Houston Flood Response

The Red Cross Northern Miami Valley Chapter
The Red Cross Northern Miami Valley Chapter

As flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey continues in and around Houston, Texas, many people in the Miami Valley are wondering how they can help.

Officials with the American Red Cross are urging people to consider volunteering, or donating to the relief effort.

To donate by text message, text the words “Red Cross” to 90999. Donations are also accepted at the Red Cross’ website.

Red Cross officials say at least 18 volunteers have deployed to Texas from the Miami Valley so far.

Northern Miami Valley Red Cross Chapter Director Lynne Gump recommends donating cash instead of bulk items because, she says, cash donations allow the Red Cross to more quickly feed and house storm victims in the most affected areas.

“We use it for gas to get the vehicles from Point A to Point B, so that we can do the remote feeding in the areas.  We use people’s money to purchase food to feed the thousands of people that are in shelters,” Gump says. “Let’s say someone shows up to the shelter with absolutely nothing, or they need diapers -- we use that money to purchase diapers.”

Gump says Red Cross officials typically station food, water, clothing and other emergency supplies as close to an anticipated disaster zone as possible. Once those initial supplies are exhausted, officials will purchase additional emergency supplies locally, when possible.

Gump says Miami Valley Red Cross crews have been assisting emergency responders in Texas with search and rescue operations in flooded areas.

“Our biggest focus right now is mass care, that's making sure people have a safe place to stay, it’s opening shelters, it’s making sure we feed people that are in those shelters. And then as those flood waters recede and we can get into areas, we’ll put our emergency response vehicles out on the road and they’ll do mobile feeding as well,” she says.

She stresses there are also volunteer opportunities Ohioans can do without traveling to Texas. 

Interested volunteers are encouraged to attend an upcoming Red Cross volunteer-training session Thursday in Troy, from noon to 8 p.m. For more information go the Northern Miami Valley Red Cross Facebook page, or call (937) 332-1414.

Utility crews from the Dayton Power and Light Company are also on standby to assist with storm recovery.

Corporate communications director Mary Ann Kabel says DP&L is part of a regional mutual aid assistance program. She says members of the group met Saturday to discuss the Harvey emergency response.  

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott has activated around 12,000 Texas National Guard troops for search and rescue efforts, The Associated Press reports.

Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall last Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.

In a statement Monday, State Attorney General Mike DeWine urged Ohioans to beware of fraudulent Hurricane Harvey charity scams.

“We encourage people to be generous in helping those affected by the devastating floods in Texas,” DeWine says. “We also encourage people to make sure their donations go to legitimate causes, not scammers. A little bit of research can go a long way to avoid being taken advantage of when helping those in need.”

DeWine’s office recommends vetting potential charity sites on the Ohio Attorney General’s Office website, with IRS Select Check, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and GuideStar.

The attorney general also lists these warning signs of a potential charity scam:

  • "High-pressure tactics.
  • No details about how your donation will be used.
  • Refusal to provide written information about the charity.
  • Organizations with names that sound similar to other better-known organizations.
  • Requests for donations made payable to a person instead of a charity.
  • Offers to pick up donations immediately versus in the mail or online."