April 7, 2016

Tully man assists Red Cross flood relief in Texas


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Central New York Red Cross volunteer Gordon Howard, of Tully, recently returned from Texas, where he helped out after recent flooding there.

Staff Reporter

TULLY — Resident Gordon Howard recalled Tuesday a poignant moment from his recent weeks volunteering in Texas with the American Red Cross. He was evaluating flood damage to a trailer when two young children showed him how high the water had crept toward the ceiling of their home.
He was struck by the fact the two children would be left without a home and the importance of his mission there.
Howard is back home after two weeks of volunteering with the organization in Belmont, Texas.
“I worked out of the headquarters in Belmont, but we went all around to places including Jasper, Deweyville, Bon Wier, and Orange, Texas,” Howard said Tuesday.
Disaster workers are still helping in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi more than three weeks after devastating flooding occurred there and they will continue to stay and help people recover, according to the Red Cross.
Howard was part of the Disaster Assessment Team in Belmont. He said the team’s job is to evaluate damage that occurs in a disaster.
The information from assessment is then used so the Red Cross knows the scale of the damage and it is also used to identify people who need assistance from the organization.
Howard is a volunteer with the Central New York chapter of the Red Cross. Two weeks ago Tuesday, he was called around 7 p.m. and told he was needed in Texas. He left the next day.
Howard arrived in Houston on March 23 and then went to Belmont.
“We (the disaster assessment team) met each day at 8 a.m. To get to an assignment we would drive half an hour to maybe an hour and 15 minutes,” Howard said.
He said the job would last all day, with team members usually arriving back in Belmont around 10 p.m.
After two weeks of volunteer work, Howard returned home in New York on Monday evening.
Howard’s job consisted of assessing flood damage to homes in the disaster area.
He described one home where he was charged with assessing damage to a mobile home when two young children came out.
“The windows of the home were all open trying to dry the home out. One of the children showed us that the water at one point was about halfway to the ceiling of the home,” he said.
The home was unlivable and Howard said the incident brought home for him the importance of the assistance from the the Red Cross.
Howard also received recognition after he and his partner assisted a man who had driven off the road right in front of their vehicle.
“The driver was able to get out of the truck OK, and we helped by directing traffic and staying with him until help got there,” Howard said.
Flooding in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi has destroyed or heavily damaged more than 9,000 homes. The Red Cross is providing shelter, food and other supplies to help people recover.
“Volunteers are going to be there for the foreseeable future,” said Dan Hartman, regional communications program manager of the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross estimates that it will spend around $8.5 million to $11.5 million to help those affected by the floods in the three states. The money used to fund the relief efforts comes 100 percent from public donations. The Red Cross does not receive regular funding from the federal government.

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