Late October brought torrential rain and winds to Texas and many southern states. Houston received more than nine inches of rain in fewer than 24 hours as the remnants of Hurricane Patricia – the second Pacific hurricane on record to make landfall at its intensity – passed through and added to the impact of existing storms passing through the region.
|Volunteers Peggy Johnson (L) and Larry Cornet after|
from deployment to help with floods in Texas. Photo
by Walter Palmer, American Red Cross
Two Colorado Red Cross volunteers deployed to Houston, Texas to assist with response efforts.
These are their stories in their words:
Larry Cornett, Volunteer ERV Driver
Originally, we were called into service to assist Austin when Houston was still being impacted by the storms. By the time we got there, the need in Houston had escalated, and we were sent there once we reached Austin.
|Larry Cornett (in ERV) and Peggy Johnson (L) load the|
ERV with the help of another Red Crossw volunteer
before heading to flood stricken areas. Ohoto by
Mark Bishop, American Red Cross
There was tornado damage when we got there – mostly roof damage and fences down. But there were a few houses that were completely destroyed.
There was one couple I talked to. Their home was destroyed by one of the tornados. The mom said she was able to grab their daughter and make it into the bathtub. But their 15-year-old son was sleeping, so the dad, Raj, grabbed him, and they took cover under the bed. They said the air pressure was so strong windows were blowing out throughout the house. Then, the roof lifted up – entirely off the house – and fell back down. It was all over in about 30 seconds, and no one was injured – thankfully. But the aftermath was devastating for them. Insulation from the attic was strewn over a three-house area – it looked like it’d snowed. And the roof caved into the house in front and was completely gone in the rear.
“We were spared by the grace of God,” Raj said. “It’s a miracle we were unharmed. The house had disintegrated around us.”
Before we left, he thanked us for our help and support – mental and emotional, too. He said it was comforting having the Red Cross there to assist him and his family on their road to recovery. I mean, that’s the entire purpose of the Red Cross – we are there when disaster strikes and when people need support and direction in dire times. It’s truly a privilege to provide comfort to others.
Peggy Johnson, Volunteer ERV Driver
Hurricane Patricia came through the southern Houston area about a week before we deployed. We loaded the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and drove down from Colorado with cleaning kits, bleach, tarps, trash bags, water, gloves and other cleaning supplies from the disaster response operation warehouse.
|Volunteer Peggy Johnson gets a welcome hug|
from Dee after providing her with cleanup supplies.
Photo by Mark Bishop, American Red Cross
One client in particular I remember well. She was so appreciative. Her name was “Dee.” She showed us the water level on her house. There was a bayou nearby that washed out the area. She was really frustrated with the red tape of trying to get disaster relief from the local authorities. She’d been going to City Hall every day for a week without results. She couldn’t believe it when we gave her supplies to clean and disinfect her home, a case of bottled water and even a shovel to clean out the debris – all free.
Before leaving, we gave her the contact number for the Red Cross so she could have a caseworker come out to provide her with further assistance. She hugged and thanked us for quite a while before we headed out to assist others in the neighborhood.
“You are all angels from heaven. I so appreciate y’all so much,” she said. “You have brought hope to my home. You are a blessing.”
|Volunteer Peggy Johnson Hands out supplies to a waiting|
crown near Houston. Photo by Mark Bishop, American Red Cross
It was such a gratifying experience – being there to help when the need was the greatest.
|A large crowd gathers behind the ERV to get cleanup |
supplies to help recover from devastating floods in Texas
Photo by Mark Bishop,American Red Cross
The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters in America every year ranging from hurricanes to house fires. Dozens of Colorado Red Cross disaster volunteers deployed to disaster from South Carolina floods to Washington wildfires. They give their time and compassion to bring help and hope to people affected by disaster. We salute all of our volunteers and thank them for their service.
If you would like to help the Red Cross keep the promise of hope go to www.redcross.org/colorado to find out how to volunteer or donate.