MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Five tornadoes in East Texas left five dead over the weekend. With more storms expected this week, the American Red Cross serving the Permian Basin is staying on their toes.
"We're just keeping those people in our thoughts," said Red Cross Executive Director, Tracy Austin. "Our emergency response vehicles are set up to go throughout the neighborhoods and distribute clean-up kits, comfort kits, those things that people had to leave behind. So we need to make sure everything is ready. We always are."
Over the weekend, more than 230 people were taken into Red Cross shelters across six states. About 5,000 East Texas homes were destroyed and at least 50 people were injured.
Because damage assessment has yet to be complete in East Texas, the Red Cross chapter here is currently on standby. If they do get deployed, they'll send about two to four volunteers, costing about $1,400 each. But through the help of their generous donors, they say that's how they continue performing their mission.
"The best thing that we can do is to alleviate their suffering," said Austin.
Red Cross shelters will provide food, water, supplies like blankets and toothbrushes and even mental health counseling.
"To give them the mental health care, to let them know we're gonna be there with them until they're settled and find another place to be," said Austin. "Disaster will push them over the edge, we're here to save them from having to do that themselves."
When disaster hits, Red Cross chapters are called closest to the damage. Depending on the severity, they begin calling the next regions out. The Permian Basin chapter will find out by Wednesday whether they'll hit the road.
"With flash floods, they lose things quickly," said Austin. "There are those floods that rise slowly, people have time to get out, they have time to get things. This is not one of those times. This is one of those things when everything goes immediately."
To make a donation, you can visit the Red Cross website here. You can call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift.
The Red Cross suggests downloading their emergency app called EMERGENCY: Alerts and Notifications. The app alerts and sends details on what you should do in case of a natural disaster. It includes a Family Safe feature to allow you to view whether your loved ones are okay.
The Permian Basin Area Chapter currently has 55 active volunteers. To inquire about volunteering, call the chapter at (432) 563-2267.