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Red Cross volunteer tells his story about Harvey

William Tyree

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Rafael Corrales stands in the small gym with the many cots and gear from all the Red Cross volunteers sheltered there.

Rafael Corrales, working in the small gym with the many cots and gear from all the Red Cross volunteers sheltered there. Photo By William Tyree.

The first couple of weeks of school were different from the norm. For a brief time, the small gym was filled with rows upon rows of cots. When one walked down the hall to the small gym, it was dead silent, and when one crossed the threshold, they’d enter a bright room filled with many people’s belongings.

With Harvey, McCallum, Austin and the rest of Texas are having to deal with different and new things. People from all around the United States are gathering to aid Houston and Texas collectively. One of the many Red Cross volunteers who came to lend a hand was Rafael Corrales, a college student from Nebraska.

“I go to the university of Nebraska in Omaha, and this is my internship,” Corrales said. “It’s been a week interning with them, and they said they had started deploying people to come help down here, and that’s why I came here.”

AISD campuses joined other places like the Delco Center, churches, and other convention centers in helping to house volunteers and evacuees. The Red Cross accepts volunteers to help from all over the country to aide when disaster strikes, and McCallum’s small gym was set up with tape and cots for them.

According to Corrales, one of the best things about being with Red Cross is the diverse set of volunteers.

“I’ve met people from Virginia, Rhode Island, from Maine, from California, from Hawaii, and from just everywhere,” Corrales said.

Coming from Houston on Sept. 1 were around 2,000 estimated evacuees, when previously the Red Cross volunteers had helped set up shelters to house them temporarily.

“We went to the civic center, which is downtown for you guys,” Corrales said, “And we set up tape because we [thought we] were going to have 7,000 cots there for that mega shelter.”

As of Sept. 8, there were 250 evacuees left in Austin, as reported by KXAN. The Red Cross administrators were very prompt with getting everyone down to help out with the flooding, Corrales said. According to him, his favorite part of the experience was the spontaneity of it all.

“I literally talked to the Red Cross people at 6 p.m.,” Corrales said. “They sent me at 7 in the morning, so it was like a 10-hour thing.”

Corrales hadn’t been with Red Cross long enough to go on many disaster deployments.

“Well, this is the first place I’ve been but another levy broke in Houston, so depending on what happens right now, they’re just getting everything set up,” Corrales said. “If they need more people they might send us to Louisiana, Houston, Corpus Christi, or there’s a storm going on at Rhode Island, too.”

As of Sept. 1, the Red Cross volunteers had left the small gym for Great Hills Baptist church. Flooding from Harvey is still going on in Houston, so some of the volunteers will likely be sent down to help.

If you wish to donate to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, you can participate in either the ongoing charity drive at McCallum, or visit the Red Cross disaster relief page:
https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

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Red Cross volunteer tells his story about Harvey