NC Red Cross volunteers pay it forward in Texas

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Vicki LaBelle, executive director of the Central NC chapter of the Red Cross is heading for Texas to help.

Dozens of Red Cross volunteers and staffers from eastern North Carolina are either in Texas, on the way, or leaving soon to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Their response is paying forward the help so many provided to our state last year after Hurricane Matthew.

The executive director of the Central NC chapter of the American Red Cross will be flying out Tuesday for Houston - a date that marks a grim anniversary.

You can send a text to help right now
The Red Cross said it depends on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. It has already set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

"Twelve years ago tomorrow, I was on a plane to Houston, which is where I am actually going tomorrow, to drive to New Orleans and I was the first public affairs person there during Hurricane Katrina," Vicki LaBelle told ABC11.

But this storm is little more personal for LaBelle since her aunt is among those flooded out of her Houston-area home.



"It means a lot for me to be there whether or not I'll have the ability to interact with my family while I'm working in Houston or not I don't know," LaBelle said and then added, "But just to be there and know that I'm helping that community and helping her friends and neighbors, you know, it's a very powerful feeling."

But right now the flooding is so bad the North Carolina volunteers are a little perplexed.

"It is some frustration with our volunteers here that, you know, that we can't get out," said David Garrison a Red Cross disaster program manager from Moore County.

Garrison says the Red Cross is sending out supplies with the only people that can get around - the military.

MORE ABOUT HELPING WITH HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF

By phone Garrison told ABC11, "We're having trouble even getting out to the shelters and stuff. We've had to have equipment flown to different shelters. Most of the stuff that's actually moving on the roads is the military type high profile vehicles. And that's really the only way, that or boat, is the only way to get around right now."

The video coming out of Texas shows scenes of epic flooding.

But it's nothing LaBelle hasn't experienced.

And that's why the executive director of the local Red Cross chapter is ready to get back in the field.

"I have seen what this looks like. I understand the magnitude of this operation, and am excited to do anything I can to help the people that are affected as well as my fellow Red Crossers," LaBelle said.

She also praised Red Cross volunteers who will do the bulk of the heavy lifting in Texas.

"Red Crossers always amaze me. They are so giving of their time and talent and especially during times of disaster. This is when they shine," the executive director said, and she added, "This is what they want to do. They want to be there on the ground helping the people that are affected."

As for the rest of us, LaBelle says we can give back by calling the Red Cross to volunteer, give money, or donate blood.

You can send a text to help right now
The Red Cross said it depends on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. It has already set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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