Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee sending aid to Hurricane Harvey victims

Holly Viers • Aug 28, 2017 at 5:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Over the past few days, Hurricane Harvey has caused catastrophic damage in Texas, demolishing homes and businesses and flooding towns with several feet of water.

As Texans begin to rebuild from the storm, the Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee is sending volunteers and money to the area to aid the relief effort.

“We already have some volunteers who are there, others who are on their way, and we will be sending more,” said Glenda Bobalik, executive director of the Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee. “We’re going to be continuing to send our volunteers as they’re available to go and as the relief operation has identified needs that they have.”

Bobalik said four volunteers have already been deployed to the area, and more plan to make the trip soon. Those who are interested in becoming a volunteer for the local Red Cross should contact Angela Morris at (423) 765-4218 or angela.morris@redcross.org. Training sessions will be held this week.

The organization is also accepting financial donations, which will directly benefit the hurricane victims. These donations can be made online at redcross.org or by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or (423) 765-4222.

Checks can be mailed to American Red Cross, 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663. To ensure the donation goes toward the hurricane relief, write “Hurricane Harvey” in the memo line.

Bobalik said responding to the need in Texas fits into the Red Cross’ mission to alleviate pain and suffering caused by emergencies.

“We work cooperatively with a lot of other agencies,” Bobalik said. “It takes all of us to get down there and let the people of the Gulf Coast know that there is hope and that we are going to work with them as they figure out how to recover.”

Deputy Chief Scott Boyd with the Kingsport Fire Department said as of right now, he is not aware of any emergency responders from our area going to Houston. The Texas Division of Emergency Management has contacted the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and made a request for the state to identify resources.

“To start identifying resources for a potential deployment if (Houston) ever needs them,” Boyd said, noting the resources are basically folks who specialize in swift water rescue. “Whether they're deployed or not, that's a decision made out of Nashville.”

The request for assistance or to identify resources falls under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, said Dean Flener, public information officer for TEMA. The compact is a mutual aid agreement between all 50 states, to allow them to share resources during disasters.

Locally, Wings Air Rescue sent one helicopter out of its Elizabethton station on Saturday, along with two nurses, two paramedics and two pilots. Reid Vogel, marketing director for Med Trans (the owner of Wings) said the team is working out of Stinson, Texas (a suburb of San Antonio), assisting with the transfer of 192 patients from four hospitals impacted by the hurricane.

On a state level, Tennessee Task Force 1, a FEMA urban search and rescue team based out of Memphis, went to San Antonio on Friday. The 80-man team was on standby over the weekend, then on Sunday were deployed to Katy, Texas (just west of Houston) to conduct rescue and evacuation operations, said James Harvill, program manager for TTF1.

Staff reporter Matthew Lane contributed to this story