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Oklahomans rally to provide aid, relief to Texas following Hurricane Harvey

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OKLAHOMA CITY- As Houston and south Texas reel from the floods of Hurricane Harvey, several organizations and groups from Oklahoma are mobilizing to provide aid and relief to the thousands affected by the storm that brutalized the Texas coast over the weekend.

From service organizations like The Red Cross, Baptist Disaster Relief and The Salvation Army to linemen from OG&E, Oklahomans are packing up and doing what they can to help Texans affected by flood waters and weather.

The Central Oklahoma Area Command of The Salvation Army will serve those affected by the effects of Hurricane Harvey.  

Kenny Kelly, Emergency Disasters Services coordinator for the Central Oklahoma Area Command, deployed to the Incident Command Center in Corpus Christi, Texas to serve as the Canteen Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s ongoing disaster response operations in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas.  

“We sent our canteen (mobile feeding unit) and a catering truck, and we took four or five people down to man those vehicles,” said Jeff Lara, operations manager for The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command.

The Salvation Army canteen is a mobile feeding unit, and as Canteen Coordinator, Kelly will manage the overall operation and services provided by The Salvation Army’s Canteen fleet meeting the needs of victims and first responders in the Corpus Christi area.  

The Arkansas-Oklahoma Division is also deploying Officers from Conway, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Springdale, Arkansas as well as Ardmore, Oklahoma City and Shawnee, Oklahoma as part of the Incident Command Center to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  

“We can feed 1,500 to 2,000 meals a day from those canteens,” Lara said. “Each vehicle that went left with food for 750 people, but will resupply when they get there. Those who went, go for a two-week deployment and then another group is rotated in for another two weeks. My guess is that there will be a third two-week deployment too.”

A total of 42 mobile kitchens were sent to the staging areas in Dallas and San Antonio in preparation for deployment.  Eight of those units are from The Salvation Army in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Disaster response leadership teams will be positioned in San Antonio, Galveston/Texas City, Houston and Corpus Christi to coordinate the ongoing disaster response.

The Salvation Army is already at work in many communities that have found themselves in the path of the storm. Water, clean-up kits, food and shelter supplies have been staged and are ready to be sent to the affected areas.  Mobile feeding units and crews have been deployed from numerous Arkansas and Oklahoma locations.

The Oklahoma and Arkansas Region of the American Red Cross has also deployed five vehicles to coastal areas that will be hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Oklahoma Task Force-1 has also been deployed to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

TF-1 is an urban search and rescue team made up of law enforcement and firefighters from the Oklahoma City metro area that serves during disasters and times of crisis. The TF-1 team will mobilize in Katy, Texas with 16 people from the Oklahoma City Police Department, Edmond Fire Department, Norman Fire Department and Mustang Fire Department.

OG&E also announced that 80 crew members were sent to Corpus Christi and surrounding areas as part of more than 3,000 personnel called in from around the nation to assist in relief efforts. 

"We had 80 guys and 40 trucks leave to go down there this morning," said Kathleen O'Shea, spokeswoman for OG&E. "Once there, they will be under the direction of AEP Texas, and they will stay as long as they are needed."

OG&E is part of the Midwest Mutual Assistance and Southeast Electrical Exchange (S.E.E.) In cases of widespread outages, the exchange travels to areas affected by disasters to assist with power restoration efforts.

The Oklahoma National Guard has not been called up to assist in Texas, but are on standby to deploy if necessary.

“We are on standby in the event they need our support,” said Lt. Lindy White, director of military and civilian relations. “We are waiting. Several states have let Texas know what assets are available to assist, and right now, the situation is very fluid. We are ready if they need us.”

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice.  Cash is flexible, can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Donors are also encouraged to find reputable Houston-area charities and relief organizations to donate directly to.

Charity Navigator provides information on reputable organizations and it currently has a Hurricane Harvey specific section. Some organizations like churches may not be listed.

Some organizations providing relief and accepting donations include:

American Red Cross – Visit the website at www.redcross.org, call 1.800.RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.

Catholic Charities of USA. To make a financial donation, visit https://catholiccharitiesusa.org or text 71777 to make a donation.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has created the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible donations. The fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. To make a financial donation, visit http://ghcf.org.

Salvation Army. To make a financial donation, visit www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1.800.SAL ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.

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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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