Michigan steps up to help Harvey victims

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Individuals and retailers large and small are pitching in to help those affect by the devastating floods along the Texas Gulf Coast from Harvey.

From Walmart to a west Michigan outdoors company to individuals moved by the incredible scenes unfolding around Houston, there are ways to help far from the rising flood waters.

Sherrie Handrinos was set to return to Metro Detroit this week from her part-time home in Houston, but Hurricane Harvey scuttled those plans.

Forecast offers hope for crippled Houston

Handrinos runs a publicity and marketing firm in the Motor City who also works in Texas saw how others have lost homes, pets and belongings. It moved her and Michigan colleagues to join others nationwide who want to help.

This weekend, they’re collecting toiletries and other items for Harvey victims at the Airtime Trampoline & Game Park in Troy as well as Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. There’s also a GoFundMe page for donations to aid the efforts.

Others are pitching in: Warren Mayor Jim Fouts’ office is collecting non-perishable food items to distribute to Hurricane Harvey victims, city officials announced Tuesday. The items can be dropped off at the Mayor’s Office on the second floor of City Hall or the Warren Community Center on Arden, west of Mound.

“We know what it’s like to have most of a city underwater,” said Fouts, referring to the August 2014 record flooding in Warren. “It doesn’t compare to Houston’s flooding, but we needed outside help like the Southern Baptist Convention volunteers to help. Our drive is an example of Americans helping other Americans in need.”

A west Michigan company is sending about 2,000 kayaks to parts of Texas and Louisiana to help with flooding relief and rescue efforts following Harvey.

Walmart is buying the kayaks from Muskegon-based KL Outdoor, according to WOOD-TV .

KL Outdoor is covering the shipping costs, said Chuck Smith, its chief executive.

Walmart will sell or donate them in areas hit hard by the storm, said Smith, who added that the retailer contacted his company.

Boats and kayaks have become indispensable as flood water inundates homes and businesses in the Houston area. The boats and Kayaks are being used to reach people stranded on rooftops as heavy rain from the storm pushed waters to rooflines of single story homes in the Houston area.

The death toll has risen to at least 18 since Harvey made landfall Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.

“I think you’re seeing the best in our country when we have these situations like what’s occurring now in Texas,” Smith said. “It lets you know that if you ever got put in that situation, the other folks around the country would step up and help you.”

The Salvation Army’s Eastern Michigan Division is on standby to help, spokeswoman Andrea Kenski said Tuesday night. “We are reaching out to our Salvation Army volunteers who will receive training/refreshers in preparation for a potential deployment to Texas. The need we may be expected to fill is for spiritual and emotional counselors and food canteen drivers and workers.”

Meanwhile, the public can support the charity’s response efforts through helpsalvationarmy.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY, texting STORM to 51555, or mailing the Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.

The American Red Cross-Michigan Region has sent about 60 people along with emergency response vehicles to Texas, officials said.

The national group says you can help at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Michigan National Guard members also could be deployed to help in the response efforts. At a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday, an official announced that the National Guard Bureau is pursuing plans to provide an additional 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers and airmen.

Coast Guard stations in St. Clair Shores and Saginaw River have already sent airboats to help with rescues.

The Coast Guard’s Sector Detroit sent 21 people to Texas, as well as 12 guardsmen to help with engineering support, and planned to send nine more, including three boat crews on a C-27, as well as seven quick-deployable inflatable rescue boats and a skiff boat, a representative said.

The response meant some seasonally operated Coast Guard units across the Great Lakes, including in Harbor Beach, would end their local work at least a week earlier than expected, officials said Tuesday.

Other ways to help

AmeriCares provides emergency medicine and medical supplies

Catholic Charities is seeking donations to help provide food, clothing, shelter and support services to victims

GlobalGiving has a relief fund to help efforts

Houston Food Bank is working to feed the hungry