The Detroit Police Department Thursday sent a truckload of help to first responders in Texas dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
A semi-tractor trailer loaded with 26,000 pounds of personal care items collected by the department departed from Detroit Public Safety Headquarters on Third Street just before 1 p.m.
The truck was joined by a recreational vehicle carrying 10 Detroit police officers who will help unload the truck after it arrives in Houston. Use of the RV was donated to the police by General RV in Mount Clemens.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig and other officials gathered in front of the department’s headquarters to see the convoy off.
The chief said the donation is a small gesture meant to help Houston’s police officers, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians as they attend to residents impacted by the hurricane. He said those men and women aren’t getting much rest and they don’t have the small necessities to make a difficult task better.
“I’m excited we are in a position to help,” Craig said. “One day, it may be us. And I’m certain if that day comes, our friends and colleagues in other places will come to help us.”
Detroit Police Sgt. Starr Gonzales, one of the officers who is riding down to Houston with the donations, said the stories she’s seen and heard about Houston have hurt her heart.
“If it was my family, all my brothers and sisters would be coming together to help,” Gonzales said. “That’s how I look at this. It’s amazing. It’s a blessing.”
Officer Hassan Hourani is also going on the trip.
“The reason I became a police officer was to help people,” he said. “As soon as I had the opportunity to go down to Houston and help the officer down there, I jumped at it. It means everything that we can get all this together in such a short amount of time.”
Police said the officers will return from Houston in about a week. During their stay, they’ll attend the funeral of Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned in Harvey’s floodwaters, Craig said.
Wayne-based Rush Trucking Corp. is donating the use of the 53-foot semi carrying the donations to Houston as well as the team of drivers who will be behind the wheel.
“It’s a good cause,” said Greg Humes, the company’s president. “This is what it’s all about. When we have the opportunity to do something like this and pull together as a country, it’s the right thing to do. We’re here to help.”
Officials said Thursday it’ll take the truck between 18 and 22 hours to get to Houston, where the 13 tons of donations will be distributed to first responders.
Rush Trucking’s driving tandem Torenner Castelow, and his wife of 25 years, Edith, said they jumped at the chance to take the donations to Houston. They’ve been driving a truck as a team for the last three and half years, they said.
“We wanted to help out,” Edith Castelow said. “It means a lot to me and my husband to do this for the city of Detroit. It touches our heart.”
Detroit police officers collected personal items, such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste and bottled water over a 48-hour period last week for first-responders in Texas. They collected the items at the department’s headquarters and at Comerica Park. The campaign was organized by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the Detroit Police and Fire Departments.
Patti Kukula, the foundation’s executive director, said it was a proud day for the city and its police department.
“It’s my understanding, we’re the only police department in the nation collecting for the first-responders,” she said.
She also said the Homes for Heroes program donated $5,000 to help pay expenses for trip to Houston.
Hurricane Harvey, the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, pummeled Texas late last month as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. It’s estimated the hurricane has claimed at least 70 lives.