A tropical disturbance In South Texas created the threat of river flooding from the Rio Grande Valley to the Houston area. Then North Texas, especially the Dallas area, was hit by “1-in-1,000 year” flood. And in the middle of it all was the American Red Cross.

Even before the first rains began to fall in South Texas on Friday, August 19, Red Cross Disaster Action Teams (DATs) were gearing up for the potential threat. By the time the storm arrived, dumping more than seven inches of rain from Laredo to the coast, staff and volunteers were opening or staging shelter operations in five counties simultaneously.  Hardest hit in the region was the Three Rivers and George West area northeast of Corpus Christi, where approximately 30 homes were flooded. The Red Cross was there providing shelter, comfort and disaster assistance. As Disaster Relief Director John Millar noted, the Texas Gulf Coast Region’s response was ramped up within 48 hours with limited help from outside the region.

“This is a significant accomplishment for the Texas Gulf Coast Region,” Millar said. “It is something in which we should take pride.”

While the Red Cross was scurrying to meet the needs of South Texas, an even bigger threat loomed in the north. In what in some areas would be considered a “1-in-1,000-year flood,” as much as 15 inches of rain fell upon a previously drought-stricken area. The Dallas area received nearly a summer’s worth of rain in less than 24-hours on August 21-22. Once again, the Red Cross prepared a coordinated response in advance of the deluge. The Red Cross’s Central and South Texas, North Texas, and Texas Gulf Coast regions began deploying DAT teams in the affected areas. The flooding damaged houses, apartments and other structures, including a four-unit apartment building in Azel that collapsed.

Governor Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration for 23 counties affected by the flooding on Tuesday, August 23. That same day, two Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles were deployed to Balch Springs and Everman. They provided much-needed emergency supplies, food and water for residents beginning the arduous task of cleaning up. 

“Thanks to proactive planning and preparation, the Red Cross and its dedicated staff and volunteers were able to meet the needs of Texans during this unprecedented weather event,” said Red Cross North Texas Region Communications Director Brian Murnahan.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @texasgulfcoastredcross

Story by David Guth