The unfolding catastrophe due to Hurricane Harvey is staggering! Sadly, the death toll has risen to 29 lives lost. The number of people in shelters continues to rise, new mandatory evacuations due to Barker Dam Reservoir flooding Cinco Ranch in Fort Bend County, Texas and evacuations in Beaumont/Port Arthur continue. The water system is down in Beaumont, making living conditions extremely difficult. A chemical plant explosion in Crosby, Texas at the Arkema facility has forced additional evacuations.
A massive response continues to ramp up. More than 750 police officers from Fort Worth, Shreveport, San Antonio and other cities are arriving to assist Houston police for enforcement of nighttime curfews and relief and recovery efforts. There are 14,000 Texas National Guard and an additional 10,000 National Guard from multiple states, 33 U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and 700 marines have been deployed, and 2 Navy warships have been deployed to the Gulf of Mexico coast to assist in the relief efforts. More than 25,000 rescues have taken place.
More than 32,000 people were in more than 230 shelters overnight with 10,000 people in shelters in the Beaumont/Jefferson County areas. More than 1,100 evacuees have registered in Dallas shelters. In Port Arthur 250 senior citizens had to be evacuated from several nursing homes due to flooding. Four mega shelters are now open (3 in Houston and 1 in Dallas). The Red Cross spends on average $50 per day to provide mass feeding and sheltering for one person. Therefore, we are now averaging upwards of $1.6M per day just for sheltering/feeding.
With assistance from numerous partners, including the Salvation Army and local food banks, thousands of meals are being provided per day. FEMA states they have received more than 325,000 applications for assistance. That number is expected to dramatically increase. Longer-term once disaster assessments begin the American Red Cross will also provide financial assistance to some families affected.
More than half of the Red Cross emergency response fleet – 200 emergency response vehicles – have been activated for the operation. There are at least 9 refineries shut down due to Harvey, which will impact fuel availability throughout the region.
Red Cross volunteers are being joined by a group of highly-skilled volunteers from the Mexican Red Cross who will help support shelters, distribute aid and connect with Spanish speaking disaster survivors to keep them informed about support available to them.
With blood products prepositioned in Houston and Dallas ahead of the storm, the Red Cross continues to work closely with local, state and federal authorities to deliver blood and platelets to hospital partners in flood affected areas.
Additional Shelter Information
Find open shelters by visiting redcross.org, downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. Shelters are standing by in other states, including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas, in case they are needed. You can also call 2-1-1 for shelter information, download the FEMA app or text SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362).
The need is massive! Thank you to all who have given already. For those who have not we urge you to consider how you can help.
Stay safe everyone!
Mark Baker | Senior Corporate Major Gifts Officer