Marylanders head to Texas to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief

More than 30,000 people across the Gulf Coast are likely to seek temporary shelter as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to drench southeastern Texas and Louisiana with heavy rains and surging floodwaters. (August 28, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter here

As Texas reels from a historic storm that's crippled one of its largest cities, some Marylanders are flying down to help with recovery efforts.

The American Red Cross' Greater Chesapeake Region has sent more than 100 volunteers to help with Hurricane Harvey relief, said spokeswoman Lenore Koors.


Registered nurses, mental health providers and others from the Baltimore area have helped set up in shelters across the storm-battered state, Koors said.

"We're helping with every need that we can," Koors said. "There's going to be more — if not hundreds more — from the Chesapeake region deploying to Texas."

Four Baltimore County Fire Department personnel also have been sent to Texas to respond to the historic levels of flooding. Two of those officers, both certified paramedics, flew to Dallas Friday as part of Maryland 1-Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

The other two, firefighters normally assigned to a county search-and-rescue team, left Sunday as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency team of responders based in Philadelphia.

"Our job is to make people with the needed skills available when disasters like this occur," Baltimore County Fire Chief Kyrle W. Preis III said. "We don't know what role our personnel will be asked to play in Texas. We do know that they are committed and willing to do whatever they're asked to do."

About 30 members of Maryland Task Force 1, an urban search-and-rescue team based in Montgomery County, are also en route. The force is one of 28 FEMA search and rescue teams across the country.

Members of both the task force's swift-water and hazardous-material teams received orders to deploy to Texas on Sunday, said Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service..

"Our other members are on standby," he said. "We're expecting an additional request to send more resources."

The Maryland National Guard has not sent anyone to Texas, but spokesman Charles Kohler said the Guard was prepared to do so if it received a request.

Larry Swerdlin, a resident of Sparks in northern Baltimore County, is volunteering with the Red Cross at BF Terry High School in Rosenberg, Texas, just southwest of Houston.

He said the group was in the process of opening a shelter there that will accommodate about 500 people. Nearby, a massive sinkhole had opened up on a highway, he said.

As he worked to set up in the school's gym Monday, he said, he looked outside to see lines of school buses transporting hundreds of people who had lost their homes and were looking for a safe place to stay.

"All these people — their houses have been rendered uninhabitable," Swerdlin said. "They need food, shelter and clothing."

Koors said that what is needed most is financial support. She said people can text 'HARVEY' to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 410-624-2030 to donate to the Red Cross.


Catholic Charities USA also set up a website devoted to raising money for hurricane recovery. Gofundme has also put together a list of ways to support Harvey victims.

Other groups, including United Way, The Salvation Army and others, are also accepting funds for recovery efforts.