Additional volunteers and equipment were headed to Texas from Maine on Tuesday as the record-shattering storm continued to cause more devastation in the Houston area.

The Maine branch of the American Red Cross had activated 14 volunteers or staff members as of Tuesday afternoon to help with what is now Tropical Storm Harvey, with some already on the ground and others en route to Texas. Mainers either living or volunteering in Texas, meanwhile, reported inspirational scenes of people helping one another in the face of rising concerns that Harvey was not done wreaking havoc in the Lone Star State and perhaps Louisiana.

“Volunteers are coming in from all over the country,” said Laurie Levine, a Maine disaster liaison with the Red Cross who was working Tuesday afternoon in Austin to help prepare for an anticipated influx of tens of thousands more evacuees from flooded areas.

“We are so much still in a response mode, so the real recovery won’t start until after the rain stops and people are able to get back into their communities,” said Levine, who also responded to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana a dozen years ago.

CONCERN OVER MORE RAIN

Brunswick native Korin Wilk Brody was thankful that the flood waters had only come up to the driveway of her family’s home so far, but is concerned about what could happen if the predicted 20 to 30 inches of additional rain materializes. Brody’s husband, Sam, is a professor and flooding expert at nearby Texas A&M University so the couple made sure their house was outside of the 100-year flood plain in a city located within the Texas bayous.

Red Cross volunteer Corina Hamlin of Brownville prepares to head south from Portland with another volunteer Tuesday to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. They will deliver a Red Cross emergency response vehicle, an ambulance-like truck that can carry food, cots and other supplies into disaster areas. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“But that is going out of the window with this storm,” Brody said. “Even the 500-year flood plain is being affected.”

Brody said a sedan that was parked – or abandoned – on her street in the Uptown section of Houston has been inundated at least three times – sometimes up to its windows – in the ever-changing floodwaters. She and other neighbors whose homes have not been flooded so far gathered donations Tuesday for a shelter that is expected to open shortly at a nearby YMCA. And she even was able to walk to a neighborhood doughnut shop that opened Tuesday morning in order to buy breakfast for some of the local first-responders.

“Everybody, every walk of life was standing there and were so calm and so friendly to each other,” Brody said of the crowd gathered at one of the few local businesses to open. “People are making do. The first responders are just amazing. They have been working around the clock.”

But she called the storm a “terrible epidemic” with long-lasting consequences.

NO EVACUATION REGRETS

Nearly 250 miles away in sunny Dallas, Portland native Anna McDermott was staying with her family at an Airbnb rental while getting updates on their home in the Houston suburb of Cyprus. McDermott, who works for Maine-based Nancy Marshall Communications, said their Cyprus home had received a little water inside, but had been spared the brunt of the flooding so far. McDermott does not regret evacuating her family when most of her neighbors stayed, but was unsure when she will be able to return home with her husband, two children and dog.

“We are hoping to get home on Thursday and start helping other people,” she said. “I have a guest room that I could open (to displaced individuals) if I can get home.”

With Harvey still dumping rain on Texas and slowly churning toward flood-prone Louisiana, it could be days or weeks before some flooded areas are safe to enter. And disaster response experts are reminding the American public that, as with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, that it will take years to recover from a storm of such historic proportions.

The town of Rockport started a fundraising campaign on gofundme to help victims of the storm in Rockport, Texas.

Red Cross volunteer Bill Thomas of Woodland prepares to leave Portland on Tuesday in an emergency response vehicle to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. He and another Red Cross volunteer were headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, unless they were redirected along their way. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“Any contribution, whether small or large, will go toward relief efforts,” a post on gofundme said. “These efforts could include but are not limited to sending a team of volunteer firefighters, and a select board member to the City of Rockport, Texas, purchasing supplies like water, non-perishable food items, medical supplies, and needed equipment.”

About $700 of the $15,000 goal had been raised as of Tuesday evening.

2,000 MILES TO LOUISIANA

Earlier in the day, Maine Red Cross volunteers Corina Hamlin of Brownville and Bill Thomas of Woodland departed from far northern Maine on the more than 2,000-mile drive from Caribou to Louisiana. They are delivering one of the Red Cross’ emergency response vehicles, an ambulance-like truck that can be outfitted to carry food, cots and other supplies into disaster areas.

Red Cross volunteer Corina Hamlin of Brownville prepares to embark Tuesday on the long drive from Portland to Louisiana to help storm victims. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Both are disaster response veterans who were headed toward what Hamlin predicted would be a scene of “organized chaos” somewhere in the South during a mission that is expected to last at least three weeks.

“Whenever there is a disaster like this, like Hurricane Harvey or Katrina, people are in desperate need,” said Hamlin, 56, of Brownville. “We are there for support, whether it be food, sheltering, an ear to listen to, venting, or sometimes just a hug and that positive human contact people need when they are devastated.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

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