Hand Up Network CEO, Samuel Smith, has been through all of this too many times to count. The Teams have been comprised of some of the brightest and most experienced people to have served those in need throughout the world. They were in Rockport soon after Hurricane Harvey hit and were instrumental in bringing supplies, equipment, and a lot of love to those impacted by that devastating storm. The impact of Hurricane Harvey made a huge impact on this team. It happened at home. The Team decided to come home from overseas and setup in their own Communities across East Texas. The Hand Up Network is based in Downtown Tyler, Texas and this team now focuses on serving the 37 Counties of East Texas working side by side with Texas Emergency Response and Emergency Management Coordinators. Sam took a few minutes during the preparation for the upcoming Hurricane Laura to answer a few questions:
A lot of people like to compare coming storms with previous Hurricanes like Harvey or Katrina. What are your thoughts about this?
Every storm is different and will impact areas in different ways. Let’s just talk about Hurricane Laura as this is the one we should be concerned about. It is a very fast and building Hurricane that is going to be a Major Hurricane in short order. It looks to be at least a Category 3 which is a very deadly storm. It is nothing like Harvey in that Harvey was a huge slow moving storm that just sat on Texas for weeks and caused horrible flooding, etc. There were many areas that had huge flooding issues, but never lost power. Hurricane Laura is not like that at all. We are going to see major Hurricane Winds in the 110+ range on the coast and whether you are in the projected cone or not, you are not going to want to be in this storm. The wind will be sustainable for 24+ hours and will enter the Coast of Texas/Louisiana and then move straight into East Texas. We are going to see potential Hurricane and Tropical Storm winds throughout East Texas! Come Friday, it will be gone, but for now this is a scary storm.
So you are saying we could get serious wind and rain in Tyler/Longview?
Absolutely! We are going to see some very strong winds and rain. Thursday is going to be a long day in East Texas as we see winds similar to what a Tornado or Straight Line wind can produce and it will be here for 24 hours or so. East Texas should prepare now and be at the ready to deal with power outages, flash floods, and some really high winds that will down trees, remove shingles, etc.
We know you have your Response Teams on high alert. How can people Volunteer or support your efforts?
This is a huge need. There are going to be some situations of need throughout East Texas and our leaders will only be able to address what we have resources and volunteers available to help. We need people of all skills sets and ages. If you have a passion to help, you can serve on one of our teams. Some may have physical limitations, that’s ok, you can help sign people in or help prepare meals, bring water, etc. If you are a skilled worker, we certainly want your skills at the ready to help us when we need you! The great part about what we do is we have everyone sign up throughout our Online Application and then we will get with you and tell you what opportunities exist. You can then choose to engage or not. We just need you in the database so we can know who wants to help!
I know you just released a call out for Volunteers and Supplies? How can people help in this manner?
What can people do to prepare for Hurricane Laura?
They need to prepare their homes. Any items outside that can become projectiles need to be taken inside or moved to a safe location. If you have any tree limbs that are hanging over your house and causing concern, remove them if you can. Get gas for your vehicles, get some cash in case of power outages, batteries are always good but no candles!!! Stock up on some food/bottled water that is not perishable and be sure you have some for your pets. Also, be sure you have your Covid 19 masks, sanitizers, etc. in case you need to evacuate. We still are dealing with a pandemic too! Bottom line, prepare and don’t procrastinate. People need to take this seriously and hope it doesn’t do as much damage that is estimated.
Any thing else we should do to prepare?
Pray for the people along the Gulf Coast and all those in East Texas, Louisiana, etc. that will be significantly impacted by this major storm. This is not something that should be taken lightly and with God’s help, a lot of skill from the forecasters, engineers, emergency workers, etc. We will get through this! If you have the ability to Volunteer, please do. If you can help support our efforts financially, we need the help! Texans are a resilient bunch, but we have had a lot to deal with already in 2020 and this is another major challenge before us.
HAND UP NETWORK™ is a 501c3 non-profit based in Tyler, TX that has assembled an international team of leaders with decades of experience with a desire to come back home and bring focus to those in need in local communities. The Network offers long-term programs to people seeking a new season in life and response teams designed to address community issues and emergency response. The Network provides intentional volunteer opportunities for people wanting to provide support within their programs and opportunities to engage via Response Teams. The Hand Up Network was awarded the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency for 2020! This is the highest level of achievement possible.