Source: Mary Alford, The News-Enterprise
Upon seeing and hearing about the devastation in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey last week, several residents felt the call to go and assist those in need.
Dylan Fronk, Austin Brindley, Devin White and Roy Grohler were no exception. The group of four, who are from Elizabethtown, Paducah and Grayson County, hitched a boat, loaded into a truck and drove to Texas, arriving Wednesday and immediately got to work assisting local fire crews, the Evadale Fire Department and the Cajun Navy.
Fronk said the initial idea to head to Texas to help in relief efforts came from Grohler, who said he felt a “calling to help somebody.”
“That is when we started accepting donations to make this happen,” Fronk said. “We’ve always enjoyed helping people. It was kind of like we saw the opportunity and took it.”
The group is jumping back and forth between Vidor and Evadale, Texas. He said although hose areas didn’t get as much wind, they sustained substantial flooding. Fronk said there were Ford F-150 trucks completely submerged in flood waters and water three-quarters up on large houses.
Fronk said the group has been working “search and rescue” and delivering supplies to those who need it. Fronk and Grohler are from Elizabethtown.
The group’s plan is to return home by Monday; however, Fronk said they could leave earlier or stay longer.
Fronk said what is seen on the news is nothing compared to seeing the devastation in person.
“It’s a lot worse than when you see it on TV. When you are actually here, it is a completely different story,” he said, noting there were volunteers from all over who came to help the Texas residents affected. “There are literally people from farther than Virginia. So many came together to come down and help out.”
Fronk said sometimes in life you get a calling and you’ve just got to answer it.
Kathy Sargeant, Fronk’s mother, said Tuesday her son came to her and said, “You’re not going to like what I have to tell you.” Although she is nervous for her son and friends, she said, “We’re really proud.”
Also doing what he can to assist those in need after Harvey is Dave Vandermolen, who currently is in Austin, Texas, as an American Red Cross disaster volunteer. Vandermolen, who also is a Hardin Memorial Health auxiliary volunteer, has worked with the Red Cross for about 10 years and has been deployed to 25 disasters.
Vandermolen, who arrived Tuesday in Texas, said “floodings are the worst type of disasters.” He said flooding makes it very limited on how emergency responders can get into areas.
He said the disaster response area is divided into six districts, with Austin in district three, and Austin is a staging area.
“This area has processed several thousand volunteers,” he said, noting that also includes non-Red Cross personnel, “who just wanted to volunteer.”
“It takes a tremendous effort,” he added.
Vandermolen said the Red Cross provides evacuee shelter care to include feeding, dormitory management, family reunification, emotional support and supplies. He said there are several shelters set up in Austin.
In a news release Friday, it was reported the Red Cross serving Central and South Texas partnered with the city of Austin to open a Mega Shelter there.
He is assigned to a technology group, providing computer support, telephone support and radio support, if needed.
“We are working with a lot of other agencies. The Salvation Army is very active here, southern Baptists and several other types of church groups (and) a lot of aid agencies all working together as closely as we can so we don’t duplicate efforts and help as much as we can,” he said.
Vandermolen on Friday said the waters were beginning to recede in some areas, with roads becoming more passable. He said Houston now is accessible by road, however, areas such as Beaumont, Texas, remain cut off.