16 Hawaii volunteers deployed to help with Harvey recovery efforts

Hawaii volunteers join Harvey relief efforts; Here's how you can help
Published: Aug. 27, 2017 at 12:34 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 28, 2017 at 8:22 PM HST
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(Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP). A power pole lays in the middle of a street as...
(Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP). A power pole lays in the middle of a street as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas late Friday.

HOUSTON, TEXAS (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - In light of the devastating hurricane that hit Texas killing at least five people, volunteers from the American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter are headed to the south to help with relief efforts.

As of Monday night, 16 volunteers were headed to Texas and Louisiana, including five from the Big Island, five from Oahu, two from Maui and one from Molokai.

"I think it's important everyone takes that next step to help their neighbors," said Wahiawa resident Emily Kukulies.

Kukulies is one of the volunteers from Hawaii.

She will hop on a flight to Austin on Monday.

"I'm excited to get the opportunity to help, but it's really challenging leaving family and jobs and other responsibilities behind," Kukulies said.

Kukulies is taking off from her job at Honolulu Community College and will focus on community partnerships in Texas for the next few weeks.

"I work with non-governmental organizations and volunteer agencies and help coordinate efforts so we can collaborate and get the maximum impact for all the people who are victims in this disaster," Kukulies said.

Maragaret Shepherd from Maui is also leaving on Monday.

This will be her third disaster relief trip to Texas and will provide mental health services.

"Every time I go out, I really feel that it's a worthwhile to do mental health because there are always stories and I'm glad I was there to listen and help diffuse whatever I could do," Shepherd said. "It's such a privilege."

Another Maui volunteer, James Almeida, is a former Hawaii Air National Guardsman.

He says going to Texas is the right thing to do. He deploys Sunday night and will help assess the damage.

"We go and drive through neighborhoods and assess damage to each of the homes," Ameida said. "There are two ways of us doing it. One way is with paper we document all of that or we have a new tool we document on our phones and that gets put into a database."

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Lone Star State Friday night as a powerful category 4 hurricane, dumping buckets of rain and bringing high winds that caused severe damage.

Thousands are still without power as flood waters cover many areas of the region.

In Corpus Christi, where former Hilo residents Sam Konishi and his wife live, downed trees, twisted signs, broken fences and debris in the roadway were some of the damages Harvey left behind.

"The power went out about 10 p.m. Friday so everything was pitch black," said Konishi. "There were no lights in apartments or streets, you could hear outside the wind and rain and things slamming around. We were really fortunate that it seems Corpus Christ missed the worst of it."


Members of the community wanting to help can do so by texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Messaging and data rates may apply.

For more information on how to donate, click here.

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