Task force moves to next phase of rescue in Houston

Members of Ohio Task Force 1 evacuates people from an apartment complex who were trapped by rising waters in the Houston area on Tuesday. Many of the Kettering-based task force s members are from southwest Ohio. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Members of Ohio Task Force 1 evacuates people from an apartment complex who were trapped by rising waters in the Houston area on Tuesday. Many of the Kettering-based task force s members are from southwest Ohio. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

Ohio search and rescue team may be called to go door-to-door looking for injured, deceased.

Tropical Storm Harvey stopped dumping rain on Houston on Wednesday, but the receding water in Texas may reveal an even larger disaster for residents and overtaxed rescue workers.

“Somebody’s going to have to search entire neighborhoods,” said Ohio Task Force 1 spokesman Phil Sinewe. “Somebody’s going to have to walk door-to-door and make sure there’s not injured people or deceased people.”

Over an exhausting stretch of days, members of the Kettering-based disaster response team have rescued about 200 people, including 82 nursing home patients who will count among the estimated 30,000 people displaced by flooding from the monster storm.

More grueling days are expected ahead for the team designed for two-week deployments with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Sinewa said.

RELATED: Ohio rescue group evacuates more than 130 from Texas flooding

“I would not be surprised that they’ll be there the 14 days because there’s enough work to be done,” he said.

All of FEMA’s 28 urban search and rescue teams are activated, Sinewa said. It’s uncertain whether the agency will call on the other half of Ohio Task Force 1 to relieve the 49 members now in Texas.

Unlike the aftermaths of hurricanes Matthew and Katrina that the task force worked, the power stayed on in much of Houston, making people more reluctant to leave their homes, which may ultimately draw out the mission, Sinewa said. Many may soon run out of food and become a second wave needing rescue.

“All bets are off as to how this is going to play out over the next few days,” he said.

Hurricane Harvey: How to help SICSA and other organizations, volunteer, donate and avoid scams

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday night, pounding the coast before bringing days of heavy rainfall to the Houston area and causing catastrophic flooding.

The Ohio team got its mission a week ago and by Saturday morning was in San Antonio before getting directed to water rescue missions in Houston and Katy, Texas.

The team is currently headquartered at Katy High School, sleeping in classrooms. On Tuesday, team members showered for the first time since leaving Kettering and had their first meal that wasn’t a military MRE, or Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

The team was back out Wednesday performing water rescues from a command post shared by the Houston and Oklahoma City fire departments, a Nebraska task force and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Help from Ohioans

Ron Doyle and two other volunteers bound for Corpus Christi barely made it out of Houston before the flooding.

It was a chancy beginning for the Huber Heights resident’s first American Red Cross deployment.

Doyle, 62, is helping set up the computer and communications infrastructure for up to 60 volunteers that will help the town southwest of Houston recover.

On Wednesday, Doyle was waiting for the power to be restored to a Baptist church that he’s helping turn into a temporary Red Cross headquarters. The Corpus Christi effort is operating from rooms in a Holiday Inn, he said.

Wind damage to Corpus Christi buildings is everywhere, but even worse in other areas, said the January retiree who had a career in information technology working for both NCR and Elsevier.

RELATED: Harvey flooding overtakes Cedarville grad’s Houston-area home

“Some of the outlying communities north of here that were hit harder than we were, they are gearing up to help those people, too,” said Doyle, who expects to be in Texas two to three weeks.

Doyle said he’s still learning how to get a temporary Red Cross headquarters up and running but has already met many dedicated colleagues.

“There’s a lot of caring people. I’m totally amazed at the volunteer help and how hard they work,” he said. “Some of them have been in shelters with no relief and they’ve been working for 24 hours at a shot and not getting a whole lot of rest.”

Water donations pour in

Donating bottled water to victims of Harvey is a way “to help where you can, when you can,” said Marvin Adcock.

The Dayton man drove his SUV brimming with cases of the much-needed water to a door at The Foodbank on Wednesday morning to aid an effort to put a semi trailer on the road to Texas this week.

caption arrowCaption
Marvin Adcock of Dayton was among those dropping off cases of bottled water Wednesday at The Foodbank to aid Texas victims of Harvey. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Credit: Chris Stewart

Marvin Adcock of Dayton was among those dropping off cases of bottled water Wednesday at The Foodbank to aid Texas victims of Harvey. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Credit: Chris Stewart

caption arrowCaption
Marvin Adcock of Dayton was among those dropping off cases of bottled water Wednesday at The Foodbank to aid Texas victims of Harvey. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

As of mid-morning, collections at The Foodbank and Sinclair Community College were about halfway to the 22 skids needed to fill the trailer, said Lee Lauren Truesdale, The Foodbank’s development and grants manager. By late afternoon it appeared donations would fill a first trailer.

RELATED: Government eases student loan rules for Harvey victims

“This is probably not the only truckload we will be sending,” she said.

Truesdale said donations will continue to be accepted next week after the holiday weekend.

The water does need to be in case-sized packages, Truesdale said.

“The reason why we are asking for cases of individual bottles is they are much easier to transport,” she said. “Even for people who are impacted, whether you are a first responder or somebody who has been devastated by the hurricane or tropical storm, you are able to have this 8-ounce bottle of water. It’s not a big gallon you have to lug around … it’s just much easier.”

While Adcock hasn’t experienced a hurricane or storm as devastating as Harvey, he has at times needed a hand like the Texans caught in the storm’s path.

“People have helped me many times in my life when I had a need. There’s times I went hungry and people provided for me,” he said. “I believe if you give and help out of the kindness of your heart that comes back to you.”


How to donate water

Commercially-bottled water accepted only in case-sized packaging.

The Foodbank

56 Armor Place, Dayton, OH 45417

Through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sinclair Community College

444 West Third Street, Dayton, OH 45402

Building 12, Ponitz Conference Center

Perry Street Circular Driveway – Drive up and drop off

Tuesday, 4-6 p.m.

Wednesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-6 p.m.

Friday, 8 a.m. to noon

Exclusive coverage: WHIO TV reporter Gabrielle Enright and photojournalist Chuck Hamlin will bring you live coverage from Texas on Hurricane Harvey beginning 8 a.m. today and throughout the week on NewsCenter 7.

On air: Hear updates on Hurricane Harvey during locally anchored newscasts today on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO.

Online: For breaking news, download our Dayton Daily News apps for the iPhone and Android either at the Apple App Store or Google Play.

About the Author