BY ANDREAS BUTLER
As area residents watched the tragic stories coming out of Texas and Louisiana this week due to the catastrophic storm Harvey, they are reminded of the devastation that a hurricane can bring. It’s also a stark reminder that hurricane season is far from over.
The death toll was at more than 20 at the Daytona Times Wednesday night deadline.
Tens of thousands of people in Houston and in southeast Louisiana and have had to flee their homes because of life-threatening flooding and thousands more were waiting to be destroyed. It’s estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 homes in the Houston area have been destroyed.
Pastor: ‘Be prepared’
Last year, East Florida dealt with Hurricane Matthew in October. Although Matthew wasn’t a direct hit and did not have the same magnitude as Harvey, locals recall the experience.
The hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.
Dr. Eugene Hudson, pastor of Mt. Bethel Institutional Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, says Harvey is a reminder for locals to be prepared. He pointed out that the local church is still recovering from last year’s storm damage.
“We are on our third contractor. We are still dealing with the aftermath of Matthew. The church had roof and structural damage. It’s a large and old building so that affects costs. Hurricane Harvey definitely shows that we must be prepared for hurricanes, especially living in Florida,” he told the Daytona Times.
Mt. Bethel has been operating since 1885 and has stood at its current location since 1921.
Emergency response officials say preparedness is critical.
“We’ve been tracking Harvey since it first popped up weeks ago. Being in Florida and active as the ocean is right now things change quickly. The nature when it comes to tropical storms and hurricanes is there are so many factors that come into play,’’ commented Rebecca DeLorenzo, executive director of the Florida Space Coast Chapter of the Red Cross.
“It’s hard to know what is really going to happen. They are always unpredictable. You never know when their paths are going to change, which could often send them here to Florida.’’
The Florida Space Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross covers Flagler, Volusia and Brevard counties.
Don’t get complacent
The chapter has sent eight volunteers to help with Harvey’s aftermath to Louisiana.
“We are processing and going through all of our current volunteers and deploying those that are able to do so,” noted DeLorenzo.
DeLorenzo also warns the public not to get complacent.
She explained, “Even looking at Matthew last year, it changed direction due to a last-minute wobble and we avoided a direct hit. Back in 2004, we had a pretty busy season here with three hurricanes back-to-back-to-back. Going so long without any direct hit makes people somewhat complacent.
“Hopefully, Matthew last year and Harvey now tells all of our residents that they need to be prepared. There are tons of resources available online. Just always be ready,’’ she added.
Red Cross donations
As of Wednesday, Harvey had led to the death of 22 people and put 32,000 in shelters in Texas alone. It also had dropped 47 inches of rain in the Houston area. Texas has called up 10,000 members of the National Guard and the number is expected to soon grow to 24,000.
There are ways to help the storm victims in Texas and Louisiana from here in Florida.
The Red Cross says that residents can stop by the office at 341 White Street to donate items and money as well as give blood.
Money donations also can be send through the website at www.redcross.org. You can also text a donation via cell phone to harvey9099.
Local clergy also are stepping in to help the relief efforts for Harvey.
“As for the victims of Harvey, we are praying for them. Also, the Black Clergy Alliance is working to get donations to be able to send help to the people of Houston,” Derrick Harris, president of the Black Clergy Alliance and pastor of Master’s Domain Church of Christ, told the Times this week.