Local volunteers helping residents of Hurricane Harvey

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Watch the report from Action News at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2017. (WPVI)

Forty members of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Team are on the road, heading to Texas to provide much-needed help to those affected by Harvey.

Twenty of them are Philadelphia firefighters, and the others are members of other fire departments from across the state.

They met Sunday morning on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia to load tractor trailers and other trucks with water rescue equipment.

They will help Texas fire crews search homes and buildings for missing residents.

The firefighters are also bringing rescue dogs and their handlers.

It will take the convoy about 22 hours to get to Texas.

The American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania is seeking donations for those folks struggling due to Harvey. To make a $10 donation, all you need to do is text the word HARVEY to 90999.

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Local volunteers helping residents of Hurricane Harvey. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 26, 2017.

Other volunteers from our area are already on the ground in Texas.

On the third floor of the American Red Cross building in Center City, volunteers are fielding hundreds of calls from Texas as the storm pummels the state. Many of them are people looking for shelter.

Brian Payne of the American Red Cross said, "You're helping people on the worst day of their lives, but you're also talking to someone on the worst day of their lives. So you've got people calling in in tears, people calling in freaking out. And you just do the best you can to work through that."

In addition to the call center, the American Red Cross of eastern Pennsylvania has sent two volunteers to Texas. We spoke to one of them on the phone.

"It really makes you feel good when you see how you're helping these people, and then it makes you realize how lucky we are up there that none of these storms really hit us up there like in other areas of the country," Red Cross volunteer Fred Vielhauer of Sellersville said.

Vielhauer is in Houston now preparing emergency response vehicles. When the storm dies down, he'll head to Corpus Christi - hopefully early next week - to help in the most heavily affected areas.
"We set up our kitchens down around there and that's when we start feeding people and then we just make sure that they're running, that all the safety items are working on them. We don't want anyone to get hurt."

A way for folks here at home to help is to donate blood.

Red Cross Eastern Pa. CEO Renee Cardwell Hughes said, "People who give blood in our community - we will get that blood to Texas because those hospitals are going to be challenged with blood supplies."

Other organizations are ready to help, too.

The Pennsylvania SPCA says it has sheltered animals from disasters before, and says it could be called upon again to help animals who need shelter.
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