As the Texas Gulf Coast region copes with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, with its resulting flooding and devastation, first responders from across the state have gone to the region to assist. By Wednesday morning, Lewisville had 15 firefighters and five vehicles deployed to the area.
While locals left for the region to help, Lewisville has absorbed at least 400 evacuees, who are staying at local hotels.
Community relations and tourism director James Kunke said that the following personnel were deployed from Lewisville:
- One firefighter with Texas Task Force 2 performing rescue operations in Houston Metro
- One Medical Task Force Leader stationed at the NRG Stadium command center
- Three firefighters performing rescue and medical operations in Houston Metro
- Two firefighters in Dickinson as part of a TIFMAS strike team that includes personnel from The Colony, Lake Cities, Flower Mound, and Southlake
- Four firefighters on a Sanger FD engine responding to calls in Rockport
- Three firefighters on a chain saw crew in Rockport
- One strike team leader in Rockport
All of the vehicles the city deployed were from its reserve fleet, Kunke said. The city was filling in the gaps with overtime, he said. He did not expect the city would deploy additional firefighters.
Lewisville was notified that the effort may need more police officers. If that formal request comes through, the city has 10 officers it can send, Kunke said.
Two animal service officers and a vehicle were initially requested, but the deployment was cancelled. Kunke said they remain available if requested.
The city’s “EOC in a Box,” as it calls its portable emergency operations center, has been loaned out for the effort to the regional command center in Garland. No city staff went with it, although one employee did provide training to familiarize the command center staff with the equipment, Kunke said.
Lewisville is so far aware of nine local hotels which have taken in evacuees from the Gulf Coast. Kunke said that the city was aware of at least 400 but that they are expecting the number to rise.
Gov. Greg Abbott suspended hotel occupancy taxes for Harvey evacuees, so hotels are keeping records of who is staying.
Kunke said that the city had prepared a brochure listing local resources and agencies that could help the evacuees.
“They’re here in town, they’ve been displaced from their homes and probably didn’t bring much with them. There are resources available to them that they might not know about,” he said. “So we’re going to take this information to the hotels and have them share it with those guests to make sure those guests get in touch with the state or the social service agencies or whomever is available to provide that assistance.”
The city is launching a web page today at CityofLewisville.com/harvey to provide links to resources for evacuees and ways for residents to help.
Kunke encouraged residents who want to help to do so through established relief organizations.
“Responders on the scene ask that people not self-deploy to the area with donations or to volunteer because many areas remain hazardous, and well-meaning people entering those areas could interfere with rescue and relief operations or even put themselves in harm’s way,” he said.
As for donations, Kunke stressed the need for cash.
“While donating tangible items might feel more satisfying in the moment, cash donations often are more greatly needed because they can be applied immediately to whatever need might arise,” Kunke said.
For city personnel that deploy for the Harvey response, the city will be paying their salaries during that time. Kunke said that although there was no guarantee, it was most likely the city would be reimbursed later by the state.