Victoria Advocate - Victoria, TX

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Nonprofits, federal government may offer assistance if disaster hits

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.
Updated May 28, 2015 at midnight

Agencies such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and FEMA vow to step up when the going gets tough in the Crossroads.

The American Red Cross provides shelters throughout the state, three meals a day and is able to replace prescriptions by working with area pharmacies if a hurricane sweeps through the Lone Star State, said Cameron Ballantyne, regional public relations officer for the American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast, which encompasses 51 counties.

Beds in the shelters, which are separated based on gender, will be about the size of a camping cot, so it's not spacious enough to bring everything but the kitchen sink.

Each evacuee who shelters with the American Red Cross will be given a case worker, who provides vouchers for food and clothing, as well as cleaning supplies in the aftermath. Evacuees are only required to give their name and address. If they disclose they have a criminal history, law enforcement is always on hand to either relocate or supervise them. Only certified service animals are allowed inside shelters, he said.

There were 66 volunteers as of May 6 in the Crossroads chapter, which covers Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca and Victoria counties, Ballantyne said.

The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, meanwhile, requires the governor to request the President declare there has been a disaster. The governor in his request to the President, must estimate the severity of the damage and impact it will have on the private and public sector, among other things.

Once it's established, FEMA can respond to protect lives and property as well as meet basic human needs after the disaster. The responses depend on the situation and its severity, according to its website.

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army share resources among their various branches. Glenn Ray Haynes, Salvation Army's intake manager in Victoria, said they'll drive within a 200-mile radius in Canteens or mobile feeding units.

He was working in May on getting a canteen in tip-top shape to help neighbors in Oklahoma by testing the stove, air conditioner, water and butane tank. They serve hot meals from the Canteen.

Also available are 29 beds at its headquarters, 1306 N. Louis St., which can be used in an emergency. There's a thrift store next door, where furniture is sold or donated to a family in need.

"We do all we can. That's our motto at The Salvation Army: Doing the most good," Haynes said.



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