City Environment This is how SE Ohio is helping victims of Hurricane Harvey By Marianne Dodson Posted on September 1, 2017 8 min read 1 1 2,069 A Texas National Guardsman carries a resident from her flooded home following Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Source: U.S. Department of Defense The American Red Cross of Southeast Ohio is trained to handle disasters. Now, they’re putting their preparation into practice. Increased rainfall from Hurricane Harvey will head up to Southeast Ohio this weekend, just as donations to victims of the storm are heading down south to Texas. Devastation from Hurricane Harvey has left approximately 30,000 people in shelters across Texas, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The massive amount of destruction has inspired residents of SE Ohio to step up and gather donations. The American Red Cross of Southeast Ohio has been working to help victims of the storm, and they have helped deploy seven people to the Houston area to provide assistance. These volunteers don’t come directly from the Red Cross, but they felt compelled to take off from their own time in order to lend a hand in Texas. “These are people who have given up two weeks of their work and said goodbye to their families for two weeks just to go down and help,” Marlene Henderson, Executive Director for the ARCSO, said. Henderson encourages people who are able and interested to go to the site of the storm to help victims, but she also emphasized the importance of monetary donations. “Everything that we are doing right now, all the money that is coming in, is coded for ‘Disaster Late 2017,’” Henderson said. “That money is going to go to feeding them in the shelter… We have buying power for water, food and things they need while they’re in the shelter.” Our first priority is keeping people safe while providing shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on. More than 32,000 people sought refuge in more than 230 shelters across Texas Wednesday night. This includes at least 8,000 evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.The Red Cross, including more than 40 volunteers from our region, is working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people as quickly as possible. Posted by American Red Cross of Southeast Ohio on Thursday, August 31, 2017 Henderson leads Red Cross efforts in SE Ohio, and she says that they are constantly preparing for situations such as Hurricane Harvey where emergency help will be necessary. They are also part of a larger effort to ensure that shelters across the U.S. have the proper supplies for when disaster strikes. “We can mobilize very, very quickly. We mobilized before the hurricane hit last week. We don’t wait until the hurricane happens,” Henderson said. The ARCSO only accepts monetary donations and encourages people to refrain from travelling to the area on their own. “We strongly urge people not to load up a tractor trailer and send it down there,” Henderson said. “It becomes part of the problem and not the solution. Right now, with so many people in shelters, they don’t need stuff. What they need is a safe place to stay until they can get back to their homes. At that point, there are other things we will do for them that will help get them back on their feet.” She noted that in the past, some supplies have been thrown away or destroyed because they have gone moldy or unusable. Henderson thinks that because volunteers in SE Ohio are exposed to high winds and flooding, they are better trained to go help with disasters like these. “We just have trained ourselves to know what to do in this kind of emergency,” Henderson said. “But training is one thing — boots on the ground is something completely different.” How To Help: If you’re interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, look here. Monetary donations can be given here. Local blood drives can be found here. Ohio University’s Office of Community Engagement Programs is partnering with Nelsonville-based Quickloadz Container Systems and other community members to prepare a donation container that will be taken down to hurricane victims. Donations will be taken from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 31 – Sept. 3 outside of Ohio U’s Porter Hall. More information on how to donate can be found here.