As rain continued to inundate the streets and cities of southeast Texas this week, the Red Cross was busy providing relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
In the midst of a storm that has forced tens of thousands into Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas, 33 volunteers were already on the scene in East Dallas, offering up support at the Samuel Grand Recreation Center, a Red Cross emergency shelter at full capacity. These particular 33 volunteers, an advance response team from the Mexican Red Cross, were able to bring comfort and aid to many of those affected by Harvey.
The Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) has deployed a group of highly skilled volunteers to Texas as part of their assistance to the relief efforts coordinated by the American Red Cross, where more than 2,000 disaster workers are already on the ground with hundreds more expected to arrive in coming days. The cadre of Mexican volunteers are supporting sheltering and distribution efforts, while also connecting with Spanish-speaking disaster survivors to keep them informed about support available to them.
Having flown into Texas before the storm had even passed out of the state, the volunteers have shared a spirit of kindness and humanity with everyone they have met. As transportation access begins to reopen, they plan to continue the work they have begun in Dallas at some of the Houston area shelters where flood waters have been slow to recede.
“When I was at home I saw all the floods and the disaster, the first thing I thought was that we need to help,” says Carlos Castillo, a Mexican Red Cross volunteer from Tijuana.
He and his teammates are not the only volunteers who want to help. More are planning to arrive from the Mexican Red Cross to assist in distributions and other relief activities. Once the current group’s 20-day rotation has concluded, they will be replaced by a second round of seasoned disaster responders eager to assist.
As has been the case for Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Ike and now Harvey, the Mexican Red Cross has continued their practice of lending a hand to their neighbors to the north by sending teams of responders. This support is integral to areas with a large Hispanic community where translating abilities are needed. “People feel comfortable,” said Castillo. “They give us a really great smile when they see someone from home.”