Those helping with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts have connections to RVA

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People from all across the country are helping with the rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The Red Cross of Virginia alone has sent 40 of its volunteers to the areas hardest hit to help staff shelters that have popped up there.

“Our first priority now is the safety of the residents,” said Jonathan McNamara with the Red Cross.

Thousands are still in harms way and shelters are filling up.

“We had over 9,000 in the George R. Brown Convention Center, we’re actually moving people from that facility to other facilities both in Houston and outside,” McNamara said.

Before the storm even hit, Red Cross volunteers from Virginia headed south — even more have followed but more are still needed.

“We have 40 Virginia volunteers who are on the ground and considering that we are planning on this being weeks and months, we anticipate more will come into Texas as this operation continues,” McNamara said. “The volunteers who are on the ground are going to need go back to their families, so we’re going to need a 2nd, 3rd wave as we go though this operation. Like I said, we’re planning on this being months long and as long as it takes, potentially years, the Red Cross will be involved capacity on the ground.”

And as has become so familiar over the past few days is people going out in their own boats to save as many people from flood waters as possible. On Tuesday, 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh spoke with his cousin, Chad Willamson, by Skype who is in Texas helping to rescue people.

“We’re looking at Katy freeway which is I-10 and Memorial and basically we’ve got a little creek running through here that’s over flowing and it’s got buildings, apartments, everything flooded,” said Willamson as he showed the scene where he was.

Willamson says there are 50-60 boats just in the area where he is working to get people out, but even still there are thousands still waiting for help as the flood waters rise.

“We had a couple of people and a family who were stranded and we got them, their dog, backpack, everything that they needed so that they could at least have something of their own,” Willamson said.

“Now, I know you, Jennifer, and your twin daughters live about 3 hours north of where you are right now. What made you want to go down there and help out?” Slaybaugh asked.

“Um…it’s a…it’s a Texas thing. I don’t know,” Willamson responded.

Back at the Red Cross, they say since this will likely be a months long, even possibly a year long effort in Texas, they need volunteers and also donations. For information on how you can sign up, visit here.

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