Southern Illinois Steps Up to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

Aug 28, 2017

Nearly 40 American Red Cross workers from central and southern Illinois have been deployed to Texas to help the thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by Tropical Storm Harvey.

Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are on the ground, working to provide safe shelter and comfort to people impacted by the storm.

The Red Cross has launched a massive response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

The Red Cross says collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.

An air ambulance unit from southern Illinois is headed to Texas to help in the recovery of Harvey.

An Air Evac Lifeteam crew from Harrisburg is flying south to help those inundated with high water from the storm, which could produce a record 50 inches of rain in the coming days.

A professor at SIU-Carbondale is in Texas to assist with rescue efforts and disaster assistance.

SIU-C Professor Erin Perry
Credit SIUC

Animal Science assistant professor Erin Perry and her canine partner, Zorro, are working with Missouri Task Force One, an urban search and rescue team.

Perry has been a canine handler for FEMA for the past 14 years and says the scope and severity of the situation in Texas reminds her a lot of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"The level of flooding that's occurring is so widespread and it just keeps raining and there's nowhere for the water to go. So, just the area and the magnitude of the people that are impacted here it's definitely an event on that same scale, if not worse."

Perry says part of the work she does at SIU-C involves the study of stress on canines and ways to manage them better in the field.

"This is the real life application of the work that I do. So, being able to be here and work and see the reasons why what I do is so important, it's an honor to be able to work with such amazing professionals."

Perry says her team is being positioned to help rescue the most people because of the dense population around the Houston area. She says rescue efforts Monday included residents at a nursing home.

Perry says they're rescuing many people directly from their homes, some escaping the high water on their rooftops.

She says Missouri Task Force One is one of 27 units deployed to respond to Harvey's devastating impact.

Perry says her unit traveled to southern Texas on Thursday and they were told to prepare for a 14-day deployment.