Williamsburg-area groups help with Hurricane Harvey relief

tjefferson@vagazette.com

Two organizations with local ties are helping with relief efforts in Houston after extreme flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

The Williamsburg Red Cross is sending two volunteers to Houston to serve in different capacities of relief.

Joanne Wagner will work in the disaster mental health branch and the other volunteer will drive emergency response vehicles.

The Virginia Task Force II Urban Search and Rescue team sent a team to Houston Sunday evening.

Wagner left for Houston Tuesday morning, from there she will fly into Austin.

“There’s a big staging area in Austin where we find out specific assignments,” Wagner said during a phone call Tuesday morning while she was on layover in Charlotte, N.C. “I’m in disaster mental health, but I’m not sure where specifically they will send me.”

Wagner has volunteered with the Red Cross since 1998 and has helped during disasters before, notably during Hurricane Katrina and Sept. 11.

Wagner says everything moves so fast that she doesn't have too much time to think about the danger she will be up against when she gets to Texas.

“Disaster work is kind of my thing, so I don’t have to think twice about it,” Wagner said.

When she’s not at a disaster scene, Wagner is a mental health worker at the Family Living Institute in Williamsburg.

“There’s so much trauma in a disaster like this that I feel the least I could do is give my time for a couple weeks,” Wagner said. “I wish I could stay longer.”

The Virginia Task Force II Urban Search and Rescue team has specialized training in hurricane disaster relief and has conducted search and rescue in the aftermath of numerous hurricanes, including Matthew and Joaquin, according to a news release.

The task force includes firefighters and medics from Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg and James City and York counties, as well as from departments in Southside Hampton Roads. The exact location where the 14 member team will be working has not been determined.

Want to help?

The Williamsburg Red Cross is located at 3715 Strawberry Plains Road. To donate to the red cross relief efforts, visit rdcrss.org/2wXk3Y4.

Wagner left for Houston on Tuesday morning, from there she will fly into Austin.

“There’s a big staging area in Austin where we find out specific assignments,” Wagner said during a phone call on Tuesday morning while she was on layover in Charlotte. “I’m in disaster mental health but I’m not sure where specifically they will send me.”

Wagner has volunteered with the Red Cross since 1998 and has helped during disasters before, notably during Hurricane Katrina and Sept. 11.

Wagner says everything moves so fast that she doesn't have too much time to think about the danger she will be up against when she gets to Texas.

“Disaster work is kind of my thing so I don’t have to think twice about it,” Wagner said.

When she’s not at a disaster scene, Wagner is a mental health worker at the Family Living Institute in Williamsburg.

“There’s so much trauma in a disaster like this that I feel the least I could do is give my time for a couple weeks,” Wagner said. “I wish I could stay longer.”

The Virginia Task Force II Urban Search and Rescue team has specialized training in hurricane disaster relief and has conducted search and rescue in the aftermath of numerous hurricanes, including Matthew and Joaquin, according to a news release.

The task force includes firefighters and medics from Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and James City and York counties, as well as from departments in Southside Hampton Roads. The exact location in where the 14 member team will be working has not been determined.

Want to help?

The Williamsburg Red Cross branch is located at 3715 Strawberry Plains Rd. To donate to the red cross relief efforts, visit http://rdcrss.org/2wXk3Y4

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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