AUSTIN (KXAN) — As thousands of volunteers are ready to deploy after Hurricane Harvey hits, one of those groups represents Austin’s churches. While they will pass out essential supplies, they are also concerned about other needs: hope and healing.
Volunteers at the Austin Disaster Relief Network, a coalition of churches, are taking advantage of the calm before the storm. Hours before Harvey struck, they gathered supplies from the organization’s thrift shop, packed trailers with bottled water and loaded boxes with clothes.
“It’s a hot day out here,” said the group’s executive director Daniel Geraci. The moment his team learns about a storm, flood or major disaster, the workload for volunteers becomes the heaviest.
The supplies and volunteers will head to the most affected areas. It is the purpose of the group, which is comprised of more than 175 churches.
The network trains volunteers, gather supplies and services; and, then deploys it all into emergency situations. The network has more than 6,000 volunteers ready to go when Hurricane Harvey strikes.
This storm is its 17th large disaster.
“We provide immediate services like gift cards, hotels” Geraci said. “The most essential basic needs. Our thrift store, the Hope Family Thrift Store, provides most of those needs.”
And after victims receive housing, water and food, a trauma team from the group gives a different kind of care.
“One of the first and greatest needs that’s probably the most hidden one is the trauma that they’ve just experienced,” he said. “For someone that may look at what they don’t have anymore and it’s overwhelming. But, there will be a handful of people that will walk with them.”
And, when the shelters are full or shut down, Geraci said the churches remain as another option.
“The churches become a “plan B” for those survivors so their needs can continue to be met,” he said.
Between May 2015 and May 2016, the coalition helped nearly one-thousand families after disasters, like the Memorial Day weekend flood two years ago.