40+ Red Cross volunteers from WI to help Harvey victims in Texas: “I hope I bring comfort”

TEXAS -- More than 40 American Red Cross volunteers from Wisconsin are in or headed to Texas amid Tropical Storm Harvey, which was the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade. The storm has left devastating floods in its wake, with warnings that tornadoes, rain and more flooding are to come in southeast Texas. The National Weather Service has called the flooding "unprecedented" and warns things may become more dire if a record-breaking 50 inches of rain falls on parts of Texas in coming days.

Tom Poe

"You don't know exactly what you're walking into sometimes, and you've got to keep an open mind," Tom Poe, Red Cross volunteer said.

FOX6 News met up with Poe on Sunday, August 27th -- the latest volunteer from Wisconsin to answer the call for help.

"I hope that I bring some comfort, and helping the people out. That's my concern," Poe said.

At General Mitchell International Airport Sunday, travelers could be seen checking their phones or watching TV for the latest updates -- worried about how the storm might complicate their travel plans. Poe said for him, the weather is irrelevant. He just wants to help.

He noted that when he goes into disaster areas, he's quick to make sure he's displaying the 'Red Cross' on his hat so people know he's there to help.

"If I don't do it, nobody else will. That's how I look at it, and you have to keep a positive attitude as far as that's concerned," Poe said.

Tom Poe

Red Cross officials said as of Saturday night, 34 trained volunteers were in the Lone Star state, or in the process of heading to Texas. More headed out on Sunday.

Once the storm moves out, Red Cross officials said they "anticipate many, many more volunteers flying south."

As of Sunday afternoon, officials said the storm had taken the lives of at least two people, and the death toll will likely rise.

More than 1,000 people were rescued overnight Saturday and into Sunday, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned that some 911 calls are going unanswered as operators "give preference to life-threatening calls."

Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that Harvey would leave areas "uninhabitable for weeks or months," echoing language last heard ahead of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"FEMA is going to be there for years," Long said.

The American Red Cross relies on your generous donations so that volunteers are able to help in situations like this.

CLICK HERE to learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, or to make a donation and help Harvey victims.

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