Massachusetts emergency responders have headed to Houston to assist with the catastrophic flooding in the Texas city caused by Hurricane Harvey. Now downgraded to a tropical storm, Harvey has dropped more than 30 inches of rain on some parts of Houston.
On Saturday, three Coast Guard aircrafts (two helicopters and a plane) and 18 crew members based in Cape Cod were deployed to the area. Another nine Coast Guard personnel were also sent to help with response coordination.
As of Sunday morning, those air crews conducted 14 rescues in the Houston area, according to the Coast Guard.
Volunteers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) based in Beverly deployed for Texas on Sunday, according to Massachusetts Task Force 1. That task force, also called MA-TF1, is one of 28 Urban Search and Rescue teams across the country that are a part of FEMA.
Members of MA-TF1 include police officers, fire fighters, EMS and civilians. Sixteen total members headed to Houston Sunday afternoon with a “water rescue package” that includes boats and certified operators, according to Anita Arnum, assistant program manager and medical team coordinator with the task force.
The water rescue package includes flat bottomed metal boats and rubberized rescue boats, ready to carry out rescues, searches, or support whatever operations the law enforcement in Houston needs, Arnum said. The volunteers are currently en route, making their way by ground to Texas.
“Seventy five to 80 percent of our personnel are emergency workers, so this is nothing strange to them to go out and help,” she said. “But certainly the magnitude of the event brings up the emotions and the awesomeness of trying to help and do whatever we can in service of our country in a time of need.”
The Massachusetts Task Force has about 225 total members, all volunteers. No addition members are set to deploy at the moment, Arnum said, but they could at any point. She added that, “we are always ready and planning to respond to any request from FEMA.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a "Help for Houston" drive on Monday to collect items for those impacted by the storm.
"Our thoughts are with the people of Texas. So many are struggling during this challenging time," Walsh said in a statement. "As we have done in other emergencies and which has been done for us, Boston will step up and help through the darkest hours."
From Tuesday, Aug. 29 thorugh Thursday, Aug. 31, the city will be collecting new clothing, blankets, toiletries, diapers, baby formular and non-perishable food items.
"I've made it clear to the Mayor of Houston that Boston is here for them," Walsh added. "Let's come together as a city, contribute in any way we can, and show Houston that they have Boston's full support."
Collection locations include:
- 3rd Floor Lobby and 5th Floor Mayor's Ofice Lobby at Boston City Hall
- 5th Floor, 1010 Massachusetts Ave.
- 1st Floor Lobby, Bolling Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury
- 1st Floor Lobby, 26 Court Street
- Boston Centers for Youth and Families Headquarters, 1483 Tremont St., Roxbury, and BCYF sites.