CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A near miss in West Virginia’s June 2016 Flood is inspiring one of the 12 Mountain State residents on site or en route to Texas to support the initial American Red Cross response to Harvey.
On Monday, the former Category 4 hurricane turned tropical storm continued to flood parts of the Gulf Coast at historic levels.
Monday moved out of her Elkview home with her family just days before June 23, 2016 when entire communities in central and southeastern West Virginia were flooded. In all, 23 were killed.
Her former community, including her previous Elkview home and several nearby homes that housed neighbors, was destroyed.
“Had we not moved, that would have been our home,” Monday said. “Just having to put myself into that mind frame of, ‘Oh my goodness, that could have been me and my family,’ that just brings me back to a greater need to go back into the field and help even more.”
She’s not the only West Virginian who feels like the Mountain State has a disaster debt to repay.
“Last year, when we needed people most, they came in droves to help us in West Virginia and now we’re trying to return the favor while they need us so desperately in Texas,” said Erica Mani, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross West Virginia Region.
She said the initial wave of West Virginia volunteers would work in Texas for two weeks with replacements, potentially in greater numbers, mobilized to follow them.
For those who cannot volunteer, Mani said the best way to give to Harvey Relief would be through monetary donations to the American Red Cross.
“It allows us to be the most nimble and to put that to work where it’s needed most.”
Donations were being accepted online at redcross.org, by phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS or via text by sending “HARVEY” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Additionally, Mani said designated Harvey relief donations could be dropped off at any Red Cross site in West Virginia.
Monday’s deployment, her first with the American Red Cross since she started volunteering six months ago, was scheduled to start in Dallas. Where she would go after that was not immediately clear.
The West Virginia volunteers are or would be assigned any number of tasks, according to Mani. “They are doing everything from sheltering and feeding to damage assessment in the disaster areas and health and mental health assistance,” she said.
On Monday morning, the American Red Cross was operating shelters for thousands of people in Texas as rescue efforts continued in and around Houston and throughout the storm zone.
“The scope of this is so huge,” Mani said.
“The really frightening part is that, not only did you see the damage that happened from the terrible winds that hit from the hurricane and the water that came in immediately, but also knowing that that system, that storm system, is going to hover over those places.”
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service were projecting Harvey would put down additional rainfall of more than 15 inches by Friday in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana especially.