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Bend woman among Ore. Red Cross disaster workers in Texas

KTVZ

A Bend woman is among 11 American Red Cross disaster responders from Oregon now in Texas, helping with flood relief efforts. More than 4,500 homes in the Houston area have been affected by recent floods and more severe weather is expected this week.

Disaster responders from the American Red Cross Cascades Region are assisting residents of the greater Houston area affected by recent devastating flooding.

Along with Theresa Grimes of Bend, 10 other responders from Portland, Medford, Otter Rock, Salem, Tigard, Keizer, Junction City and Corvallis are on the ground in Texas, providing shelter, meals, relief supplies and health and mental health services to those affected by severe weather and floods.

“When a disaster occurs in our own backyard or in communities across the nation, our local Red Cross volunteers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are among the first to step up to offer help,” said Amy Shlossman, CEO of the Red Cross Cascades Region.

“These responders leave their families and the comforts of home to bring help and hope to those who need it most. Without our volunteers, who make up more than 90 percent of our disaster workforce, these relief efforts would not be possible.”

Torrential rainfall has inundated Houston, causing severe damage and destruction throughout the major metropolitan area. Rain came down at rates as high as four inches an hour, flooding waterways at rapid rates and leaving residents trapped in their own homes and vehicles.

Some areas experienced near-record, 500-year flood levels and the severe conditions caused nine fatalities. More than 1,200 high-water rescues were made in the Houston area, many of which involved people attempting to drive to safety through flooded streets. Initial reports indicate that more than 5,000 homes have been directly impacted along with thousands of destroyed vehicles.

The American Red Cross responded immediately in Texas, and disaster teams have been operating shelters, serving meals and distributing relief supplies and comfort since last weekend to help those in great need.

Since April 18 the Red Cross has:
* Opened 11 shelters, helping to provide more than 1,500 overnight stays;
* Distributed more than 24,700 relief items such as rakes, shovels, work gloves and comfort kits;
* Served nearly 35,300 meals and snacks; and
* Provided more than 1,400 health and mental health contacts for those in need.

It costs the Red Cross approximately $1,650 to send a volunteer to a relief operation for 11 days — the average length of a disaster deployment. This includes travel, transportation, lodging, food and support systems. More than 22,000 Red Cross responders have been deployed over the last 10 months. By comparison, during Hurricane Sandy the Red Cross deployed 17,000 responders.

As floodwaters slowly recede, Red Cross caseworkers are helping people plan their next steps and connect to available resources to support their recovery. Red Cross health workers are also offering services such as replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses, and mental health workers are helping people cope with a very difficult situation.

The National Weather Service reports portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska face an enhanced risk of severe weather throughout this week, including heavy rain, damaging winds, large hail and possible tornadoes. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation and putting staff and relief supplies on standby in case they are needed.

Red Cross preparedness and response efforts are made possible through generous donations from our community. Donations are used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters large and small, providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and recovery planning.

To help people affected by the Texas Floods and Tornadoes and other disasters, visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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KTVZ News Team

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