fb-pixel

Massachusetts emergency workers in Texas to aid in hurricane relief

A truck in flood waters passed a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey in Aransas Pass, Texas, on Saturday.
A truck in flood waters passed a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey in Aransas Pass, Texas, on Saturday.Eric Gay/Associated Press

Brockton resident Andrew Enos spent Friday night hunkered down in a shelter in Yorktown, Texas, as one of more than half-dozen Bay State residents affiliated with the American Red Cross of Massachusetts who are taking part in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

“Being out here can be very weird, uncomfortable sometimes, because you never know what’s going to happen,” Enos said by phone Saturday afternoon. “But at the same time it’s very rewarding being here, helping these clients . . . who can possibly lose their home in the storm.”

About seven Massachusetts residents are working with the Red Cross in Texas, most of them assigned to assist in shelters, said spokesman Jeff Hall.

Advertisement



“The Red Cross in Texas, they have emergency plans that they create with local communities for situations like this,” Hall said. Typically, responders bring cots and blankets into buildings like local gyms, he added.

On Saturday morning, Hurricane Harvey wrought its greatest destruction on the Corpus Christi metro area, near the Texas coast. Responders are “slowly moving down there” as the storm calms and conditions become safe for them to arrive, Hall said.

Enos said about 15 residents stayed overnight at the Yorktown shelter and returned to their homes Saturday to survey the damage.

“They didn’t feel safe at home knowing the storm was coming,” he said. “We’re expecting the hurricane to come back around and hit us again . . . so they could be coming back to the shelter [Saturday night].”

At roughly 75 miles from the Gulf Coast, Yorktown was not hit as heavily as some areas, but it saw significant storm activity.

“We had really high winds last night. The rain’s been coming down nonstop ever since,” Enos said. “A lot of homes have downed trees. ... We have tree limbs all over the streets, trash barrels out in the streets.”

Advertisement



The shelter lost power for about 12 hours Saturday, from 1:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., he said, but the structure remained undamaged. Enos said he expected that he may be reassigned to a busier shelter.

“I know that other shelters are at capacity. We were at Victoria, Texas, where they had over 300 people in shelters,” he said.

Elsewhere in Texas are stationed two logistics managers from Massachusetts Task Force 1’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, based in Beverly, said task force leader Mark Foster.

Ed Seligman and Sean Brown are in Austin and College Station, a city northwest of Houston where Texas A&M University is located. Foster said they were awaiting instruction from local responders on Saturday morning.

“The storm’s sitting on top of them, and they’re kind of waiting for the storm to pass,” Foster said. “Initially, local teams are out there, and ... they’re still trying to get a grasp on where to send them or what to do.”

Seligman has been with the task force for more than 25 years, and Brown for around 15 years, Foster said. They helped in disaster relief after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“They’re pretty good,” Foster said. “They’re good at what they do.”

Back in Massachusetts, Foster’s team is on standby. The task force was instructed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday to pack up trucks in case it needed to head south. By late Friday, tractor-trailers were loaded with equipment and supplies at the team’s Beverly base.

Advertisement



Foster said that while calls for additional support happen “all the time,” the Massachusetts teams still have to wait and see if they’re needed.


Rowan Walrath can be reached at rowan.walrath@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @rowanwalrath. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.