LIMA — The phone in the office of Derek Stemen, director of the West Central Ohio chapter of the American Red Cross, has been ringing off the hook the past few days. And that’s a good thing, he says.
The public is responding in overwhelming numbers to the catastrophic flooding in southern Texas that is a result of Tropical Storm Harvey. Many of the callers are asking how and where they can make in-kind donations of products earmarked for flood-relief efforts, although Stemen said the gestures of kindness are slightly premature.
“The offer of in-kind donations is great, but we’re in full disaster mode at the present time and are not actually accepting or collecting donations at this point,” the director said. “The rains in Texas are expected to continue through the week, and we’ll know know more a little later” about what type of supplies are in the greatest demand.
Stemen said two local individuals have been deployed to the Houston area to help with disaster efforts. Disaster Program Manager Catherine Reed arrived in the Lone Star State even before Harvey, a hurricane when it made landfall, had struck the coast of Texas. Van Wert resident Eddie Glossett has also been deployed to the disaster scene to serve as a shelter volunteer.
Short of donating supplies, Stemen said there are three things the public can do to help support disaster efforts. Funding is always needed, he said, and area residents may make financial contributions online at http://redcross.org or by phone at 800-733-2767 or by texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from this disaster, Stemen said.
“And volunteers are always needed. With about a week of training, people can be ready to deploy” to the disaster site, Stemen said.
The third way local residents can pitch in, Stemen said, is a little less obvious … but vital nonetheless.
“People can donate blood. We don’t always think about that, but they are not able to collect blood as they normally would in Texas right now,” he said.
A blood drive is planned for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Lima Memorial Health System.