The people of Texas will get a helping hand from New York City to address the devastation from Hurricane Harvey.
City officials on Sunday deployed the Office of Emergency Management’s Urban Search & Rescue New York Task Force One, an 80-member unit including representatives of the NYPD and FDNY, as well as EMS responders.
Suffolk and Nassau counties were not sending crews to Texas, officials said Sunday.
Elizabeth Barker, the senior disaster program manager for the American Red Cross on Long Island, flew from MacArthur Airport and landed in Dallas on Saturday evening and spent Sunday shuttling among the city’s three shelters. She expects to be in Texas for about two weeks and will probably go to Houston in a few days once it’s possible to drive there.
Barker said three other Red Cross employees from the Long Island office landed in Austin on Sunday and a fourth is stuck in Atlanta as they make their way to Dallas and Houston.
She said Red Cross employees from other states volunteered to come to New York after superstorm Sandy and she wanted to help those “who were there for us.”
“This kind of storm just resonated with me,” said Barker, 37, of Smithtown. “I have to get down there. I know exactly what the people who have to respond are going through.”
She said Long Islanders can donate to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Harvey victims or sign up on the charity’s website to volunteer to go to Texas. Other residents in Texas have already donated items to the shelters to help evacuees.
“Disasters can really bring out the best in people,” she said.
Barker said she is part of a public affairs team in Dallas and part of her duties include helping displaced residents reach out to family members to let them know they are safe. She said there has been a “sense of community” in the shelters.
Nassau County police said Sunday that the agency will not send personnel to aid the relief effort.
“While the Suffolk County Police Department is not directly deploying emergency hurricane assistance to Texas, a significant number of Suffolk County Police Department personnel serve as active duty in various military posts, including the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing, which is being deployed in response to Hurricane Harvey,” Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers said.
Nassau County Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-North Bellmore) is coordinating a supply drive with local fire departments to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, he said.
In the wake of superstorm Sandy, Rhoads said many of the images coming out of Texas reminded him of the devastation on Long Island in 2012 by superstorm Sandy.
“A lot of those strike close to home for those of us on the South Shore,” he said. “Why not organize something to help our fellow Americans in their time of need?”
The FDNY is sending 40 members of its Incident Management Team to Houston as well, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“After Superstorm Sandy, so many cities stepped up to help our people. We’ll do all we can to help those affected by this storm,” de Blasio tweeted Sunday.
A spokesman for the NYPD said it sent 33 Emergency Service Unit officers and six K-9 unit officers to Houston.
On Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo deployed aircraft, vessels and service members from the 106th Rescue Wing to Texas and Louisiana to assist.
“New Yorkers firsthand know the damage Mother Nature can cause, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Louisiana and Texas as they brace for Hurricane Harvey,” Cuomo said in a statement.
With Stefanie Dazio