Peninsula residents sending help following massive flooding in Houston

Daily Press

Hampton resident Sarina Korona will pack up a U-Haul truck next week and make her way to Houston, where she will offer canned goods, hygiene products and other items to communities that were ravaged by Harvey, which became a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall over Texas, over the past week.

Korona said she and two of her friends in Chicago and Miami are collecting nonperishable goods, hygiene products, school supplies, blankets, pet food and other items. They plan to drive the supplies next week to Houston, where homes, businesses and roads were flooded after the storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain in the area.

“They only have so many resources — some places are getting more help from bigger organizations than other places,” Korona said. “We’re going to be the little people that come through and help the other little people.”

She is accepting a wide variety of everyday items, ranging from clothes and pet food to baby supplies.

“Clothes, water — anything, basically,” Korona said. “They really lost everything. I grew up in a hard area where a lot of people don’t even want to help. There are going to be people that need help, and I know what it’s like.”

Korona’s friend, Khristopher Lassiter, of Newport News, rallied friends and family to donate clothes after hearing about Korona’s plan online.

“When (Hurricane) Katrina was around, I was young,” Lassiter said. “Now I’m 21. I have a voice, and I’m able to help. People need to start rebuilding, and it’s going to take a while, so it does not hurt to have a heart.”

Those interested in donating supplies for Korona’s trip can bring them to 124 Riverview Drive in Hampton anytime before Wednesday. Though there will be a box with a plastic covering outside, she encourages people to knock on the door and deliver donations directly, so none are missed. She does not wish to collect money, except in the form of gas cards for the journey, she said.

York County resident and owner of No Sweat Mobile Shower Service Jim Clayton also is planning a trip to Houston soon. He has three mobile shower rigs prepared for the trip but is waiting to hear when and where to go, he said.

Once he hears of safe and clear locations, he will deliver three shower units to the area. Each rig, which has 16 showers, can produce 200 gallons of water at 112 degrees in eight minutes, he said.

Clayton’s mobile showers have served people after similar disasters, including on the Peninsula after Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, he said.

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command is assisting with the aftermath of the storm by raising funds, a news release from the group stated. The organization is seeking monetary donations.

“Every dollar raised will go directly to further support these efforts,” the release said.

Those who wish to assist with Houston relief through the Salvation Army, can text STORM to 51555, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, visit helpsalvationarmy.org or mail a check to 5525 Raby Road, Norfolk, VA 23502.

Virginia Blood Services, a nonprofit that provides blood to hospitals throughout the state, issued a news release requesting Virginians give blood to help make up any shortages that may occur in the Houston area due to clinic closures.

“In the wake of the storm, many blood drives have been canceled and donor centers closed in the affected areas,” the Virginia Blood Services release said. “With more sustained rain forecasted, these cancellations and closures are likely to rise. Virginia Blood Services needs the community’s help to ensure a safe and adequate supply not only for our community but for the communities impacted by this massive storm.”

News 3 and the American Red Cross will host four blood drives at Hampton Roads malls this weekend. On the Peninsula, Patrick Henry mall in Newport News will hold blood drives from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.

“This is going to take a massive effort,” Clayton said, “not only to clean up but to house these folks.”

Smith can be reached by at 757-510-1663 or @hillarysmith21.

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