Texans rally to recover from wildfire damage / Public News Service

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It’s been a tough week for Texas, with a deadly combination of tornadoes, wildfires and even snow. At the end of the week, 16 counties were declared disaster areas by Governor Greg Abbott.

A number of small county judges have done the same, to help expedite the recovery process.

Lucy Walsworth, regional director of communications for the American Red Cross, said her organization has so far assessed more than 150 homes for damage, a number that is growing daily. She explained how to start the process.

“Please call ‘1-800-Red Cross’ and then press the option number ‘4’ so that you can connect with someone who can take their information and pass it on to us,” Walsworth stressed.

She added that Red Cross volunteers not only help find shelter, but can also meet medical, spiritual and mental health needs after a disaster. More than 70 people have requested help so far.

The storms downed power lines and destroyed homes and businesses. A few injuries were reported but no deaths. Walsworth pointed out that a multi-agency resource center is open today in Round Rock at the United Heritage Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to assist anyone in need.

“All of those community partners will be there as well,” Walsworth pointed out. “It’s kind of like a one-stop shop, so to speak, to get them the help that people may need.”

Texans are also encouraged to complete the self-reported damage survey online, to help emergency management officials understand the range of problems in the state. The data is also provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to determine individuals’ eligibility for disaster relief.

Walsworth added that connecting people to resources is the most rewarding part of her job.

“I lose a little sleep or time away from my family; it’s really nothing compared to what some of these people are going through,” Walsworth remarked. “If we can lighten the load in any way, shape or form, that’s extremely nice.”

She noted that the organization always needs volunteers. If you are interested, contact your local Red Cross office.

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