Washington, DC - The American Red Cross is working day and night to get help to where it is needed most. Rain continues to fall, thousands of people have already been forced to abandon their homes, leaving everything they own behind. It is anticipated that many more families will be impacted as rain continues to fall and flooding persists. The area could get as much as 50 inches of rain before Harvey leaves the region. The area of Texas that's currently underwater is comparable to the size of Lake Michigan.
In Texas, officials are estimating that more than 30,000 people could be forced from their homes, with more than 725,000 people currently under mandatory evacuation orders and more than a million facing voluntary evacuation orders. Thousands more are also being evacuated in Louisiana. Preliminary FEMA estimates indicate as many as 67,000 homes in Texas may be damaged. Water rescues are still occurring and numerous hospitals and nursing facilities are evacuating patients and residents. Transportation, travel and housing are expected to see significant challenges for an extended period of time. Schools and airports are closed and hundreds of thousands of people are still without power. Communications systems are out, including landline, cellular, internet, and mass media platforms.
What We’re Doing
Our first priority is keeping people safe while providing shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on. Throughout the night, emergency responders continued to bring rescued families to shelters and thousands of evacuees streamed in on their own. Preliminary estimates indicate that at least 17,000 people sought refuge in more than 45 shelters across Texas Monday night. This includes at least 8,000 evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Shelters are also open in Louisiana as the storm moves in to the area.
Almost 1,000 volunteers are on the ground and more help is on the way. They will be 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. Along with our partners, we have served nearly 30,000 meals and snacks since the storm began. More than 80 tractor-trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies are now on the ground in Texas. This includes supplies to support 6 kitchens, each able to produce 10,000 meals a day. About 73,000 ready-to-eat meals are currently on the ground with an additional 43,000 en route. More than half of our emergency response fleet – 200 Emergency Response Vehicles – have been activated for the operation.
At the end of last week, the Red Cross prepositioned additional blood products in Houston ahead of the storm to help ensure an adequate blood supply would be available for hospital patients. We also staged more blood product inventory in Dallas. We are closely working with local and federal authorities to continue the distribution of blood products to our hospital partners.
More than 14 million hurricane and flood alerts have been issued through Red Cross mobile apps since Thursday, surpassing the 6 million issued for Superstorm Sandy. The alerts provide people with real-time information so they can help protect themselves and their loved-ones.
The Red Cross 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. The Red Cross is mobilizing its disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services.
You can find shelters by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767), visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
If you need to find a shelter, you can also check with your local officials for information on where to find a shelter. Monitoring your local media may also help.
How You Can Help
This is a time for communities to come together and support one another. If safe, people should check on their neighbors, especially the elderly.
The Red Cross has a massive relief response underway and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.