Volunteers Have Trouble Getting to Houston for Harvey Relief

Red Cross volunteers from Maine hoping to help victims of Hurricane Harvey have encountered trouble of their own.

Darlene Helms, a volunteer from Hampden, arrived in Texas before the height of the storm. She was driving to Galveston to set up an emergency shelter, but had to cover herself, due to flooding roads.

"The weather was so bad, [Darlene and other volunteers] had to stop where they were, and find shelter themselves," said Patricia Murtagh, regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Maine.

Helms made it to a nearby hotel — which also started to flood.

"The first floor of the hotel was flooding," said Murtagh.

Instead of setting up a shelter elsewhere, Helms and the volunteers stayed in the hotel to care for other stranded guests.

"They are walking around the hotel, making sure others are safe, and cared for," she said.

The Red Cross keeps in contact with its volunteers to make sure they are staying safe during natural disasters.

"Their safety is paramount to us," Murtagh said.

Traveling to Texas has been a challenge, with airports flooded and roads closed.

Red Cross volunteer Ruth Lathrop tried to get a flight to Texas three times before she was successful Monday morning. She eventually got a flight from Portland to Texas.

The images of destruction in Texas haven't deterred people from volunteering for the Red Cross disaster relief efforts. The Portland office received dozens of phone calls Monday morning from people wanting to help.

Murtagh said the best way to help is donating to the Red Cross. She said they will be needing volunteers to go to Texas or help out in local offices for months.

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