Florida Fish and Wildlife officers use an aluminum boat to rescue Texas residents after Hurricane Harvey. Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Rick Scott

Local and state agencies and volunteers respond to Hurricane Harvey: Here's how to help

Florida Fish and Wildfire officers and others have mobilized to respond to disastrous flooding in the wake of the hurricane.
By: 
Aug. 29, 2017

Local and state agencies and aid organizations are gathering donations and volunteers to aid residents of Texas and Louisiana, where flooding from Hurricane Harvey has displaced tens of thousands of people.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has sent about 125 officers and 40 boats to Texas, rescuing more than 200 people, according to a news release from the Florida Governor's Office.

The American Red Cross of Florida's Space Coast chapter, which includes Flagler County as well as Volusia County and Brevard County, has about half a dozen volunteers on the ground in Texas, and is preparing more. They'll be staying for two to three weeks. 

"This is our number one focus right now; it will definitely be ongoing for a very long time," said Rebeca DeLorenzo, executive director of the American Red Cross of Florida's Space Coast chapter. "Our biggest needs are volunteers and financial resources." DeLorenzo said that for now, financial donations are best. "We’ve been getting a lot of calls from people that want to bring in donated goods or items, and unfortunately, we just don’t have the capacity too be able to manage them all," she said.

The Red Cross has about 10 volunteers in Flagler County and is seeking more. Nationally, the Red Cross has seen a deluge of volunteer applications: about 18,000 over the past few days, DeLorenzo said. 

"We just ask everybody to be patient, because we’re trying to bring on new volunteers as quickly as we can," DeLorenzo said.

The Red Cross doesn't just need people who can commit to deployments to Texas: It needs people who can manage a front desk, guide new volunteers, serve as public affairs officers and fill other positions.

"Really whatever somebody’s strengths or interest are, we have opportunities," DeLorenzo said. For information on donating or volunteering, see the box at left.

The Red Cross is preparing for the disaster response to last for six-to-eight weeks, and likely longer, DeLorenzo said.

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office, in coordination with the Coastal Florida Police Benevolent Association, is collecting donations of used and new clothes and shoes (see the box at left for details), and faith-based organizations are also helping with the response to Hurricane Harvey. 

Local Catholic churches will be collecting for Catholic Charities USA at masses Sept. 9-10 for distribution in areas affected by the storm, according to a news release from the Diocese of St. Augustine. (For more details on how to donate, see the box at left.)

Salvation Army volunteers from Florida are staging in Baton Rouge, and the Florida Baptist Convention has feeding and chainsaw crews on standby for deployment to Texas, according to a news release from the Florida Governor's Office.

The Flagler County Humane Society, which is part of the Florida State Animal Response Coalition, has donated dog crates to the Southeast Volusia County Humane Society, which is sheltering displaced dogs. The Flagler County Humane Society is preparing for the possibility that it, too, will be called on by the Florida State Animal Response Coalition to shelter pets of families displaced by flooding, Director Amy Carotenuto said.

The best thing people can do to aid its efforts, she said, is foster or adopt pets that are currently at the shelter. "Then when they do call, we have space," she said.