Local volunteers, organizations gear up to help with Harvey

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Hurricane Harvey and the disaster zone it is bound to leave behind are about 700 miles from Wichita, but distance is not a factor in those with helping hearts.

Several Wichita-area organizations and volunteers are gearing up to head to Texas and Louisiana to help disaster logistics. Village Tours provided 10 coach buses to be sent to the evacuation zone near San Antonio, according to president Jeff Arensdorf.

The American Red Cross is gearing up to send several Wichita area volunteers to aid in disaster relief. Shirley Barrett, a volunteer with the Red Cross since 2005, thinks she’ll get the call by next Wednesday. Her expertise? Financial case worker.

“Like if their house was destroyed, you know and they had no place to live and we could help with a hotel room or things like that,” Barrett said.

She’s excited at the thought of helping people and she’ll be in good company. The Red Cross has 10 shelters set up currently in the area and could have as many as 50 to 100 set up by the time disaster strikes according to executive director Jennifer Sanders.

“Efforts have definitely ramped up, we have approximately 450 staff and volunteers on the ground currently in Texas, we anticipate as many as 1,500 more staff and volunteers responding by Tuesday,” Sanders said.

For Wichita-based burger joint Freddy’s who has 10 Houston-area franchises, safety is paramount.

“We’re actually closing all of our restaurants at 7:00 this evening, really concerned about the safety of our team members and all of our guests that come into all of our restaurants,” co-owner Scott Redler said.

Freddy’s sent volunteers down to feed first-responders after other notable disasters in Joplin and Oklahoma City.

“We’re a good partner and a good neighbor, so we’ll help businesses if needed and it’s all one big team effort to help put things back to normal,” Redler said.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.