HARVEY: As flood waters surge, relief focuses on rescue efforts

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line Digital Content Editor | 8/28/2017

In the wake of an unprecedented downpour from Hurricane Harvey, disaster relief agencies are still scrambling to assist or rescue millions of people along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

As organizations, companies and individuals look for ways they can contribute to the recovery effort, truckers will once again play a key role in making sure supplies and life-saving equipment are taken to those in need.

John Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association in Austin, says his group is working to coordinate the transportation rescue equipment to the areas hit hardest by flooding.

“We’ve had lots of requests to get assets from Point A to Point B. Given that, the flooding is still ongoing and ahead of us,” Esparza said in a phone interview with Land Line on Monday. “We’ve been working with emergency management officials, the governor’s office, and now Bass Pro Shops trying to move some john boats from Katy (Texas) to a staging area. We’re on our way to pick those things up right now.”

Esparza said the biggest challenge affecting the relief efforts right now is simply getting around. Record-shattering rains from Harvey have pounded southeastern Texas since the storm made landfall on Friday. Experts predict some areas may receive as much as 50 inches of rain, and that major flooding may persist in the area for days. Read more about coverage of the storm damage and road closures here.

As floodwaters continue to rise, more and more roads are closing.

“The biggest challenge you have in helping is making sure the route can be traversed safely,” Esparza said. “(The flooding) is going to reach historic levels.”

Esparza said truckers looking to volunteer their time and equipment to help with transportation may contact TXTA. He said the focus right now remains on rescue.

The American Logistics Aid Network and the Transportation Intermediaries Association also are teaming up to connect truckers with requests for help with transportation and warehouse space. ALAN is requesting only pro bono, donated or volunteer offers at this time. Requests for need are listed on the group’s website.

If you can’t volunteer your time or equipment but still wish to help out, the American Red Cross has set up a text line for cash donations.

The Red Cross says it has sheltered more than 1,800 people in Texas and Louisiana who sought refuge from the storm. The organization says it predicts that number to rise as dozens more shelters open in the coming days and as millions face flash flood warnings, including the entire Houston metro area.

According to a news release Sunday, the Red Cross has enough shelter supplies in Texas to support 28,000 people, and supplies for an additional 22,000 people were on route.

Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt has also started on online fundraiser through crowdfunding website YouCaring.com, that has raised more than $500,000 for Houston flood relief. Watt donated $100,000 of his own money to kick off the campaign.

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