Red Cross dealing with second major disaster in North Texas

May 16, 2013 5:03:35 PM PDT
The tornados in North Texas is the second devastating event to hit the state within a month. While the Texas Red Cross is well organized, major disasters like this take a big toll on its resources.

When the Red Cross deploys crews to a disaster scene, they can remain on site for up to three weeks. Some local crews recently returned from the West fertilizer plant explosion and remain on standby for the tornadoes in North Texas.

There have been two disaster zones in four weeks in Texas -- the deadly April 17 West fertilizer explosion and the May 15 tornados in Granbury. Each time the Red Cross deploys equipment and volunteers.

Red Cross volunteer Harriet Halkyard was deployed to West for several days.

"I was there to make sure that we were feeding in the right places, that we hadn't missed anybody," Halkyard said.

The Red Cross for the Houston region is still on standby for deployment to Granbury, where a deadly tornado left a swath of destruction.

Crews from the Dallas office are on the ground performing damage assessment.

"How many homes are perceived destroyed, how many are going to need minor repair potentially and what's that going to the impact on the community," said Cameron Ballantyne with Red Cross Houston.

Each deployment, brings a range of emotions, Halkyard likens to a yo-yo. She still remembers one particular victim from West.

"She was covered in scratch marks, where she had been lacerated by a thousand pieces of glass and her husband had lost an eye. Well she had been through so much. And all you want to do is cry with her, but you're supporting her up and then afterward she says, 'Thank you so much,' and your emotions are way back up again," Halkyard said.

Along with large scale disasters, the Red Cross also responds to local apartment and house fires, all with unpaid volunteers like Halkyard, though she'll cheerfully tell you she profits from each assignment.

"The salary I get is the hugs from the volunteers and the hugs from the clients when the Red Cross is able to provide the services they need," Halkyard said.

Donations to the Red Cross typically go to a general fund nationwide, but people can designate a certain area. The group, which also responds to apartments and home fires, can always use donations because who knows what will happen next.

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