Local Emergency Crews Continue To Mobilize To Support Harvey Rescue And Relief Efforts

FAIRFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Local first responders, organizations and volunteers continue to mobilize to Texas to help with Harvey rescue and relief efforts.

It’s a call being met by crews all over the Tri-State area — the New York Air National Guard, FDNY, NYPD and Red Cross volunteers like Bruce Kosensky.

Photos: Southeast Texas Devastated By Harvey | Harvey Flooding: How You Can Help

“I don’t know any of them but we’re going to be helping them and supporting them in whatever they need,” he told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris. “It’s just talking to them sometimes, you need just somebody to say, ‘How you doing today, things OK?’ And while we’re doing that, we’re going to be feeding with the truck and giving them something to eat something to drink.”

He gets emotional remembering the day he walked through the Red Cross doors, ready to volunteer. It was exactly 12 years ago that he deployed to Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Looking forward to helping.”

He’s joined by three other volunteers from the New Jersey Red Cross for a two week commitment with many open-ended questions, including where they will end up.

What they know for sure is they will forever be changed in the next few days with the main focus on getting everyone on dry land.

“And helping them with in the shelters, with the supplies that we give them with food, with a warm place to stay and also with emotional support,” said NJ American Red Cross CEO Ana Montero.

A truck will be filled with essentials already waiting distribution in Texas. The organization is preparing supplies for an additional 46,000 people who may need help as waters continue to rise.

Meanwhile, members of the FDNY arrived in College Station, Texas Monday night to help.

“When our brothers are in trouble in another state, we respond, assist, reach out and help each other out as humans and fellow Americans,” said Lt. George Diaz.

Also on the job is the Urban Search and Rescue New York Task Force from the FDNY and NYPD.

The Red Cross Disaster Assistance Response Team from New York could be deployed in Texas for up to three weeks, helping in bulk distribution and damage assessment.

“It is really sobering what’s going on in Houston. We have sent down about 120 emergency personnel to help out in Houston, we sent down 75,000 meals,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told WCBS 880. “We went through Sandy, we know what it feels like so it’s really important that New York City be there for the folks of Texas.” 

Crews on the ground are joined by those in the air. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed the Air National Guard to Texas and Louisiana, sending three rescue helicopters, rescue planes and several boats and watercraft to the affected areas.

Port Jefferson resident Eric Cohen isn’t with an organization, but after seeing the images of the flooding and devastation, he decided to collect non-perishable items, pack up his 24-foot trailer, and head down to help.

“Just thought it would be something good – a lesson for my 12-year-old daughter to see — you know, helping people,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “So I try not to leave it up to the government, and let people help other people.”

Cohen said he’s buying some items and is also looking for donations.

“Anything people think that if you were in that situation, you would need,” he said.

Items can be dropped off this week at Cohen’s window cleaning business, True View in Setauket. He plans to hit the road this weekend. 

The local effort to help extends to every living creature and while some families were able to escape along with their pets, carrying them in rescue boats, there have also been heartbreaking images of animals left behind.

“We have five doggies at home, when they rescued us, they told us we couldn’t bring our dogs,” one woman said.

Here at home, Robyn Urman is doing all she can to help. Early Monday morning, five cats and 10 dogs arrived in Tenafly from Texas shelters in danger of flooding.

“This shelter was going to be under water in two hours so they just started pulling the dogs out so they wouldn’t drown,” she said.

She said the dogs would have likely been euthanized to make space for the stranded pets rescued from flood waters.

“Right now, we are trying to make space for the animals that we will hopefully find alive because once you find them alive, they need to have a place to go,” she said.

About 100 dogs are expected to be flown into New Jersey Tuesday and distributed throughout local shelters.

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