The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, May. 28, 2020

Local volunteer helps hurricane victims

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Local resident Ed Glossett said his stint as a volunteer American Red Cross disaster worker in Houston following Hurricane Harvey was interesting, but added his Red Cross training helped him cope with the experience.

Local American Red Cross volunteer Ed Glossett (right) with Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern. photo submitted

Just getting into Houston was a problem, Glossett said. He noted that he and other relief workers had to fly into Louisiana because of the widespread flooding, and then waited there 3-4 days before they could be driven to Houston.

Even after they began the drive to Houston under a police escort, the buses had to wait outside the city for a night when they failed to get to the city before darkness fell. Because of the flooding, Glossett said vehicles couldn’t go into the city after dark.

Mark Klausing, local disaster team leader, said Houston is even flatter than Van Wert County, which, when coupled with the desert terrain and hard ground, kept the water from dissipating like it would here. He added that an estimated 6.3 million people needed assistance after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area.

After Glossett got into Houston, he and other Red Cross workers were first employed setting up a warehouse where bulk supplies could be stored. They then unloaded 16 trailer loads of supplies the Red Cross had already shipped to the city and prepared emergency kits to take to city residents.

Traffic wasn’t a problem, he added, since most of the city was shut down because of the flooding.

“All downtown was closed, it was a ghost town,” Glossett said, noting that it took 2½ weeks for most of the water to recede.

After setting up the warehouse and making up disaster kits, Glossett said he and other relief workers then took supplies on military vehicles into the city, where residents were patient and friendly, for the most part.

“Texas is a very friendly state,” he noted. “Everyone was helping everybody else; it didn’t matter, it was really neat.

“That was the best experience, seeing a city pulling together like that,” Glossett said.

The Red Cross volunteer said the language barrier, with Houston having a large population of Spanish-speaking residents, as well as other ethnic groups, such as Filipinos and Koreans, was something that had to be overcome before translators — some of them AmericCorps volunteers — were brought into the city.

He said that his biggest surprise was what most Houston residents were asking for, in the way of emergency supplies: bug spray and water.

“The bugs were a big problem,” Glossett said, noting that there were lots of cockroaches in the city, and mosquitoes were 3-4 times larger than those in Van Wert County.

The flooding also made it hard to get from one place to another. Klausing said Catherine Reed, another area Red Cross volunteer, said that, while where she slept was only across the street from where she worked in Houston, it took an hour of driving to get there because of high water.

Derek Stemen, Lima Red Cross chapter executive director, said more Red Cross volunteers are headed for Puerto Rico and Florida to help with the devastation in those s

“In the last month, the American Red Cross has launched a wide-ranging relief effort to help people devastated by three historic, back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, and Maria,” Stemen said. “The Red Cross is part of a large team of agencies and organizations responding to provide help to communities turned upside down by these three category 4 storms.

Stemen also noted that the Red Cross is supporting the Mexican Red Cross in its response to recent earthquakes.

Klausing thanked Glossett for volunteering to help those in Houston who were suffering because of Hurricane Harvey.

“I commend Ed for giving up his job and his family to take time to go out and do this, that’s amazing,” said Klausing, who added Glossett was being deployed again to Florida this past week.

POSTED: 09/30/17 at 9:01 am. FILED UNDER: News