Dozens of people from Kansas and Missouri are on their way to the Gulf Coast of Texas as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to batter Houston and other parts of southeastern Texas.
The Red Cross of Western Missouri has sent two emergency response vehicles with paid staff and volunteers. “That vehicle is a multi-purpose vehicle. It can be used to distribute food, clean-up supplies and whatever else is needed," says Steve Adukaitis, the Red Cross' regional disaster officer in Kansas City. "In addition to vehicles with staff we have been sending some volunteers directly down by themselves to join the relief effort.”
The Red Cross here is doing double duty as it continues to help flood victims in the greater Kansas City area. Adukaitis says local people come first. “We are not releasing resources to go anywhere else until we’re confident that we can keep and use the ones we need," he says. "Again, our focus is local.”
The Red Cross chapter that covers western Kansas, Nebraska and southwest Iowa has already sent five of its 12 emergency response vehicles, including one from Topeka and one from Wichita. "The rest are ready to go if requested," says spokesman Richard Dinsdale. "This is all hands on deck for this one."
Red Cross staff and volunteers were told to pack for up to two weeks and the chapters should be ready to provide workers until the end of the year, Dinsdale says.
Westar Energy in Topeka has dispatched eight line crews totaling 40 people, according to spokeswoman Gina Penzig. She says Westar crews are expected to arrive in Houston Wednesday afternoon.
A spokesman for Kansas City Power & Light says no crews had been sent to Texas as of Monday afternoon.
Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas.