New Jersey volunteers ready to lend a hand with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts
TRENTON — New Jersey is lending a hand to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
The New Jersey chapter of the American Red Cross sent a dozen volunteers to help at shelters set up for the thousands who have fled the Texas Gulf Coast and work alongside staff and volunteers from Texas.
"Not only is Harvey the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in over a decade, the rainfall potential is huge. As the storm sits over Texas for almost a week, some locations will see several FEET of rain. The flooding will almost certainly be catastrophic," Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.
"They are trained in many different areas. They are skilled up on how to run and open a shelter and they're there helping families that are evacuated from their homes. We have volunteers that are supervising with logistics expertise planning the moving of relief supplies for the operation, moving supplies from location to location or getting people to the necessary locations, working in warehouses and moving vehicles if necessary," Ana Montero, regional CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region told New Jersey 101.5
Motero said the volunteers that come from all around New Jersey are ready to go and make a commitment to stay for two or three weeks. They will often work at multiple locations during their stay.
Many of them received help from the Red Cross during Sandy and volunteer as a way of "paying it forward."
"These volunteers in particular are all too familiar with the type of devastation that these storms cause because of Superstorm Sandy," Montero said. One of the relief workers now based in Texas worked with the Red Cross in a similar capacity during Sandy.
"I'm so incredibly proud of how our volunteers come through all the time," Montero said.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management's Task Force One, deployed last October for the first time as a FEMA team, to help with the cleanup of Hurricane Matthew, is on stand by to travel to Texas.
"They have been in constant communication with FEMA. They were told to be on standby at a ready state so if we get the call we're absolutely ready to go," New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Connolly said.
FEMA can also ask for specific "packages" of personnel such as their swift water rescue team or the whole team which includes K9 handlers, engineers, medical doctors and nurses plus fire and law enforcement personnel.
Connolly said that teams closest to Texas are called in first, but New Jersey could be called in to relieve those teams. Task Force One could also be called to other areas of the Gulf Coast region after the full extent of the storm's damage is known.
The 280 members of the team are members of three teams, named Red, White and Blue, that could be deployed. One team always remains in New Jersey.
The latest forecast models show the remnant tropical moisture of Harvey will not move in New Jersey's direction through the Labor Day Weekend, according to Zarrow.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.