How Hoosiers can help after Harvey

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Phones were ringing off the hook Monday at the American Red Cross and Salvation Army in a heartwarming display of Hoosier humanitarianism.

Disaster relief representatives report an impressive number of people calling, emailing and visiting their offices in-person asking how they can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

“We have been inundated with amazing Hoosier hospitality,” said Duchess Adjei, communications director at the American Red Cross in Indianapolis. “So many people have stepped up and tried to help,” Adjei continued.

However, the storm system surrounding Harvey is still dumping rain on the southern United States, and authorities say Monday rescue and relief teams weren’t able to handle truckloads of Indiana volunteers or even truckloads of food, water and supplies.

PHOTOS: Harvey hits Houston 

“Right now it’s too new, too fresh,” said Bert Williams, emergency services coordinator with Salvation Army. “They still have to get in and find out what needs to be done before we can specifically start asking, ‘Hey, we need mops; hey, we need two-by-fours.'”

Representatives from both aid organizations said the biggest thing Hoosiers can do within the next 48 hours is donate funds.

“At the moment, cash and monetary donations is key,” continued Williams. “That allows them to buy exactly what they need.”

That’s what David Woodwin, 80, had in mind Monday morning when he walked into the American Red Cross off Meridian Street.

“My wife and I thought that we ought to bring as much as we could and help as much as we could,” said Goodwin, who told us he is on a fixed income and has a daughter in Dallas. He handed the receptionist a check in an envelope, smiling.

Williams and Adjei said people are also welcome to volunteer their time with their response teams, helping with tasks like answering phones, organizing donations, or signing up for a potential two week deployment to Texas once the roads are clear. Hoosiers can also roll up their sleeves and help in another way.

“The lack of blood in Texas is a huge situation,” said Adjei, noting that Houston blood banks will not be open this week, but hospitals’ need for blood will increase sharply. “If corporations are willing to host blood drives or high schools or different organizations or groups, we’re definitely open to that.”

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At the Salvation Army in Indianapolis, volunteers weren’t taking material donations as of Monday but continued to sign people up for volunteer training courses and take donations. Already trained volunteers, including several trained in emotional and spiritual counseling services, have been placed on standby, ready to deploy as soon as officials in Texas are prepared.

Jerry Larsen, a former director and current volunteer with the Salvation Army, says five emotional and spiritual care officers have been requested from the central United States, and one has already been commissioned from Indiana. Larsen says he should leave in the next day.

“None of us are wise enough to know what to say when somebody’s lost everything,” said Larsen, who is also a trained emotional and spiritual care volunteer. “So it’s important for us to listen and see what their needs are immediately.”

If you’re interested in donating, you can text the word “STORM” to 51-555 to begin an electronic donation to the Salvation Army. You can also call in a donation at 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visit their website.

Donate $10 through your cell phone provider bill to the Red Cross by texting the word “HARVEY” to 90-999. You can also call and donate at 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit their website.