Local volunteers mobilize on behalf of Texas disaster victims

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Dozens of volunteers from the Lehigh and Delaware Valleys continue to deploy to the disaster zone in Texas.

That includes two additional Red Cross workers who left Tuesday morning after loading up at the agency's headquarters at 23rd and Chestnut streets.

It's the third emergency response vehicle the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania chapter has deployed to Texas.

Jerry Hemingway and Red Cross staff member Mike Kiley-Zufelt are driving it south.

Both volunteered for this assignment.

"It's difficult to watch and see what's going on down there," said Kiley-Zufelt, from Collingswood, N.J. "And knowing we are going to be there and hopefully make a difference in these people's lives and alleviate some of the suffering going on... it makes you feel a little bit better."

The van is set up to feed people. It's stocked with food, hot water, and emergency supplies for Harvey victims.

Hemingway, from South Philadelphia, started volunteering for the Red Cross nine years ago after watching hurricane relief efforts on the news. He wanted to help.

"We have a lot of training," he told Action News. "This is what we are ready for."

The pair will make their way to a staging area in Louisiana before getting a specific assignment where they're needed most.

Meantime, inside the Red Cross's Center City headquarters, trained volunteers in one the agency's national call centers have been fielding thousands of calls from Houston and across the country, as rescue operations continue.

"The need is extraordinary," said the chapter's CEO, Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes. "It's going to rain through Thursday. Because it will continue to rain, more people will be displaced."

Efforts are also underway to help storm-affected animals.

St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center mobilized its sister shelter waystation transport program.

Tuesday evening, they will welcome at least 100 shelter dogs from Texas at their Madison, New Jersey campus.

After the dogs eat and rest, many of the animals will be transferred to partners along the Northeast corridor, including shelters in our area. This helps provide capacity for animals displaced by the storm.

Meantime, a relief contingent from the Philadelphia-area Salvation Army is set to deploy to the Texas region on Wednesday.
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