Floods predicted in Dolly's wake

Volunteers prepare and plan response to assist hurricane survivors.

BY VICKI DESORMIER | BROWNSVILLE, TX | July 23, 2008


Widespread flooding has been predicted in the wake of Hurricane Dolly which crossed the southern Texas coastline Wednesday afternoon packing winds of up to 120 mph, knocking out power and disrupting telephone service across the region.

Meanwhile, volunteers elsewhere were packing up trucks and waiting for the call to start heading toward the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico.

Dolly strengthened to a Category Two storm as she pushed toward shore on Wednesday morning near South Padre Island about 35 miles north of the United States' border with Mexico. A solid Category Two storm, packing winds of 100 miles an hour, with higher gusts, she knocked out power to much of the area while knocking down trees, signs and doing considerable damage to a small apartment complex in Brownsville.

The storm weakened quickly and was downgraded to a Category One hurricane as it moved inland. The National Hurricane Center said the storm's biggest danger may be the rain that is predicted to total 12 to 20 inches in some areas.

More than 100 people had fled to shelters in Cameron County, Texas, where emergency officials were urging residents in low-lying areas to seek shelter on higher ground.

Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Virginia, Kim Burgo, senior director of disaster response for Catholic Charities USA, said she and a small group of volunteers from her organization will be heading to Texas Saturday morning ready to do whatever they could to support the local efforts that will be in place with groups like the Salvation Army and Adventist Community Services.

She said they will begin looking to establish a community resources site where people can go for "one stop shopping" for recovery information. She plans to work with some representatives of Lutheran Disaster Response in setting up a long term recovery center.

Mike Nevergall, a program associate with Lutheran Disaster Response, said his group was staying in touch with representatives of Lutheran Social Services of the South and other first responders in Texas to see what was needed and when their services would be needed.

"We're just watching and waiting to see where we're needed and as soon as the call comes, we'll be there," Nevergall said.

The storm was still pushing to the west through southern Texas when Sherry Watts of Adventist Community Services was overseeing the packing of a truck in Fort Worth on Wednesday. The truck would head south as soon as the storm had moved out of the area, she said.

Watts said her team had gathered some 1,700 packages that contained t-shirts, pants, socks and underwear that would be distributed in the Brownsville area. The dry clothes will be needed by those beginning the recovery process who may have not had any dry clothes for a few days.

She said they will also distribute some personal care kits with toiletries and blankets.


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