North Texans Ready to Help Victims of Tropical Storm

North Texans are preparing to help victims of Tropical Storm Cindy, now expected to landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast early Thursday morning.

"Hurricanes are really easier than tornadoes because we know they're coming," said Terry Henderson, state director of Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief.

The group's trucks in East Dallas are loaded with enough supplies and equipment to make 30,000 meals a day, and even more if the volunteers cook around the clock.

"Food is usually the immediate need, because after about 72 hours most people's electricity is out, they've lost their food," Henderson said. "So we need to get in there, get the food preparation up and start having it delivered."

In Dallas County, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and three other locations could house more than 11,000 people should they be evacuated from the coast.

"Our teams work on these things every day. And especially around times like this, they've been on weather calls five or six times a day, constantly working to make sure that we're ready if we're needed," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

As of Tuesday night, Dallas County does not expect to house any evacuees from this storm.

Response teams at the regional headquarters for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Denton are monitoring the approaching storm and are prepared to send needed supplies from the federal government's huge warehouse in Fort Worth.

The Texas Baptist Men and other volunteer groups are prepared to go wherever they're needed.

"We're just staying prepared to go at the drop of a minute, you know. We get a call, we're ready to go," Henderson said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center to raise its readiness level as Tropical Storm Cindy approached the Gulf Coast.

The center's readiness would be raised from level four/normal conditions to level three/increased readiness as of noon Wednesday. Also, Abbott has activated four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads and two Texas Military Department vehicles squads of five vehicles each to respond to any weather-related emergencies.

Abbott also put on standby the Emergency Medical Task Force of the Department of State health Services, as well as Texas Military Forces aircraft and shelter and feeding teams.

A voluntary evacuation notice has been issued for those with medical and other special needs on the Bolivar Peninsula, between Galveston and High Island, Texas. The National Weather Service advises that services may be limited for those on the peninsula around high tide from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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