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Northern Illinois Red Cross ready to help hurricane victims

CHICAGO -- Chicago volunteers are providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross of Northern Illinois has deployed volunteers and ComEd is ready to send a fleet of trucks to south Texas.

In Chicago, ComEd has 50 trucks on stand-by, ready to go to south Texas to assist in disaster relief efforts – primarily getting the power back on. Right now, ComEd is waiting for word from disaster response authorities in Texas.

Meantime, Red Cross volunteers from Chicago are already assisting in the disaster zone.

“I’m just thinking about the people involved and hoping people are staying safe and using their resources wisely,” Catherine Rabenstine, Red Cross, said.

Rabenstine of the Red Cross in Chicago is monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey – which could cause catastrophic flooding in south Texas and Louisiana – she knows volunteers from across the country and in Chicago will be needed in the days and weeks ahead.

“The Red Cross is always at the ready, so we have volunteers ready to deploy to disaster sites 24-7,” Rabenstine said.

So far the Red Cross of Northern Illinois has sent 10 volunteers to the disaster zone, where Hurricane Harvey slammed ashore near Corpus Christi, Texas, Friday night bringing wind gusts of 130 miles per hour.

This is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the united states since 2004. Even as the storm has been downgraded – heavy rainfall is expected to devastate the region.

“This is going to be a massive response effort, so Chicago, Northern Illinois Red Crossers are at the ready,” Rabenstine said.

Last night, the Chicago Red Cross sent two emergency response vehicles to the region bringing cases of water, kitchen supplies, and ready-to-eat meals.

The Red Cross will also be sending trailers full of shelter supplies including cots and blankets for more than 20,000 people.

Some of the Chicago volunteers will be helping to manage the more than 50 shelters already set up.

“They want to get us down there early because there’s not much time between now and when it really gets ugly,’ a Red Cross volunteer, said.

“Whenever we’re out, we’re in an area that’s just been devastated and you know, everybody’s doing the same thing – looking for help. We’re there to provide it,” another volunteer said.

Some predictions show 35 inches of rain could fall in south Texas by Monday, and the full extent of the damage won’t be known for days.

“There are a lot of people who are going to need help for a long time after a storm like this, so the red cross is going to be there for the weeks and months of recovery ahead,” Rabenstine said.

Red Cross said more volunteers from Chicago will be needed in the coming days.

If you want to help, you can make a donation on the Red Cross website.