Written by Noi Mahoney, Red Cross Volunteer
The American Red Cross is continuing to support residents and provide assistance to first responders affected by several fire events around central and south Texas.
Red Cross workers opened a resource center and have been providing relief and comfort to individuals impacted by a large apartment fire in San Marcos since Friday morning.
The fire occurred at the Iconic Village apartments and the Vintage Pads apartments located just north of the Texas State University campus. Five people were killed in the fire and about 200 people were displaced. Many of the people affected by the fire were students at Texas State.
“We have been out here since 7 a.m. Friday morning,” said Elizabeth Wills, a Red Cross Disaster Action Team captain. “We opened a resource center at the San Marcos Activity Center. We have been providing comfort kits to those affected by the fire.”
Wills said since Friday they helped 87 people and opened cases for 79 people.
“We have been assisting residents, doing casework, providing financial assistance, helping residents who were displaced,” Wills said. “We have also been providing assistance to students who need things like getting a prescription for their glasses or prescriptions for medical needs.”
Wills said the Red Cross has been working closely with officials from Texas State University, the San Marcos Fire Department and the San Marcos Office of Emergency Management.
“We have received very positive feedback from residents, from city officials and from the office of emergency management who are grateful to the Red Cross for the help,” Wills said.
Around 100 miles north of San Marcos, the American Red Cross Serving the Heart of Texas has been providing food and supplies to first responders fighting wildfires in northwest Coryell County and the Fort Hood military installation near Killeen.
The wildfire fire in Coryell County, which at one point covered around 2,900 rural acres, is still ongoing and was about 75 percent contained as Tuesday (July 24).
“We have been feeding 135 fire fighters everyday,” said Disaster Action Team Lead Robert Gonzales. “We’ve been feeding first responders, emergency medical services workers, Texas A&M Forest Service (workers), people from (Coryell) County and community volunteers.”
The Red Cross has served more than 1,105 clients with food and supplies since Saturday, Gonzales said. “Four volunteers have been helping with the response in Coryell County.”
On Fort Hood, a wildfire fire was burning in four separate locations. Around 6,500 acres on Fort Hood have been affected over the past several days. No lives or buildings have been reported lost from the fire.
Penny Peck, one of the Red Cross volunteers working on Fort Hood, said they have been providing three meals a day since Monday, serving about 450 people a day. The Red Cross has also been providing fruits, snacks, water and Gatorade.
The soldiers and fire fighters have been very appreciative, Peck said.
“I have lost count of how many times I have been told, ‘I really appreciate what you guys are doing,’” said Peck, a feeding coordinator who was working out of an emergency response vehicle (ERV) and tent. “We’ve been providing three meals a day since Sunday, about 450 people everyday.”
Gonzales said they have also received positive feedback from county officials, including Robert Harrell, Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator, and his staff.
“Bob Harrell and Azalea from the county, have been really appreciative of everything we have done,” Gonzales said. “Azalea, everyone calls her ZZ, has been really appreciative of the food, we also brought sunscreen for the first responders. She said she didn’t know about everything we do.”
At another wildfire in Burnet County, the Red Cross of Central Texas has been helping firefighters since early Sunday morning. The fire has affected around 737 acres and was 60 percent contained as of 4:30 p.m. Monday.
“The (Burnett County Office of Emergency Management) contacted us and asked if we could provide canteening (food, water and snacks) for the fire fighters,” said Don Barlow, the Disaster Action Team Lead from the Central Texas chapter. “Sunday morning we fed them breakfast tacos, and for lunch we fed them Chic-Fil-A. They requested breakfast again Tuesday.”
The fire ignited on a rural county road north of Burnet on Sunday. Concentrated to ranch land, the fire has not prompted any evacuations. Barlow said he and his wife Julie were the volunteers assisting the firefighters and emergency services workers responding to the fire. He estimated they served around 150 clients during the response.
“When we first got out there Sunday morning with the breakfast tacos, it was like feeding a bunch of hungry fish,” Barlow said. “The fire fighters had been working all night and they were real hungry.”
After disasters big and small, the American Red Cross focuses on providing safe shelter, food, emergency relief supplies, emotional support, health services and recovery assistance. The Red Cross relies on dedicated volunteers and generous donations to help disaster victims. You can help people affected by disasters like these and countless other crises by volunteering or making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.