TETERBORO — More than 50 New Jersey nurses left for Texas on Thursday to become the latest people from the Garden State to assist with relief efforts from Harvey.

As the storm finally pulls away from Texas after dropping upward of 50 inches of rain, the nurses are headed to the Bay Area Regional Medical Center southeast of Houston in Webster.

"We heard from the hospital CEO because of the son of Stephen Jones, chief academic officer Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. He called us and said 'Hey, we need some relief for our clinical teams who have been working non stop for five days straight,'" New Jersey Hospital Association spokeswoman Kerry McKean told New Jersey 101.5. Jones was at Teterboro Airport to thank the nurses who volunteered.

"They're in a time of need out there. When the NJHA offered us the opportunity to go and our CNO gave their blessing I said 'sure why not.' I'm an emergency nurse every day. ... I can give them some respite," Kim Russo, a nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center in Paterson, said. Russo has been a nurse for seven year.

First-year nurse Sally Na, also from St. Joseph's, said pictures and images of flooded highways and people trying to save their pets motivated her to volunteer.

"It's heartbreaking to see. I'm so glad I can use this opportunity to help," Na said.

Jessica Veccillo felt, as a nurse, it was her calling to go to Houston.

"We are here to help people. I am a trauma specialist and everybody needs a helping hand at some point," said the nurse, who just relocated to the US from Puerto Rico.

St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center CEO Heather Cammisa said depending on their size anywhere between 50 and 100 dogs will arrive from the San Antonio shelter that sent 78 dogs on Tuesday.

Cammisa said the interest from the public in the dogs has provided a good story from the destruction of Harvey.

"The response has been incredible. Just an outpouring of caring and interest in the efforts underway to help animals of the region. Our phones have been just off the hook. We're doing our very best to provide people with updated information. So many people want to know how they can help. It's just the beauty of people that we

Adoption of the dogs, however, is not the way to help for everyone, according to Cammisa. She said some people get caught up in the moment of wanting to help the residents of Texas flooded out of their homes without realizing dog ownership is a 10-year-commitment.

"Our adoption counselors work with each family that comes in looking to adopt. We want people to make a good decicion, not a hasty decision. Anytime we have a large rescue you certainly don't want people to seek the animals out of any sort of novelty of them being part of something that has been well known," Cammisa said.

There are other ways to support the effort including a monetary donation to a local shelter. "That's what enables all of us to be able to respond in these types of emergencies," Cammisa said.

Members of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management's Task Force One were in College Station, Texas on Thursday awaiting their next assignment.

A team of New Jersey National Guard airborne search-and-rescue experts are expected to arrived in Texas on Friday.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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