Helping in Houston

Regional Red Cross personnel join relief operations in Texas

Regional American Red Cross communications officer Lloyd Ziel was at Houston Airport late Sunday afternoon, watching through a driving rain for a Blackhawk helicopter to come into view.

The chopper was to collect Ziel and other Red Cross personnel and fly them to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. There, they were assigned to help set up an emergency center to accommodate 5,000 people evacuated from the rising floodwaters threatening to rewrite the meteorological history of southeastern Texas.

“We came down as a team to help local disaster officials,” Ziel said, speaking as he monitored announcements broadcast through the airport. “Right now, we’re waiting for the Blackhawk to take us to the convention center.”

The team’s destination has a new name for the time being: The George R. Brown Emergency Center, according to news reports.

Ziel, a resident of Greenland, represents the New Hampshire and Vermont Region of the American Red Cross. He is joined in Texas by Kristen Binau of Manchester, the chapter’s regional disaster officer. Both departed Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Saturday.

Ziel said late Sunday afternoon he’d just received word rescuers had begun evacuating Galveston, noting his team would at some point be going to Dallas to set up a shelter for the evacuees.

With conventional transportation virtually non-existent in most of the Houston and Galveston areas, some Red Cross staff and volunteers clambered aboard large dump trucks – one of the few types of vehicles that sit high enough to successfully navigate inundated roads, to reach their destinations.

The flooding has closed hundreds of roads, shut down rail travel, closed airports to civilians and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people.

A number of hospitals and nursing homes have been forced to evacuate their patients and residents and close, according to Red Cross reports.

Additional staff and volunteers from New Hampshire and Vermont could be deployed this week, officials said.

As the numbers of evacuees mount by the hour, Red Cross chapters across the nation are appealing for donations to help replenish their kitchen supplies and ready-to-eat meals, which become critical during such widespread disasters.

Donations may be made at, where links to several options are listed. Donors also may call 800-RED-CROSS (733-2767) or, to make an automatic $10 donation, text the word “harvey” to 90999.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or @Telegraph_DeanS.