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Volunteers leave Virginia to help Texas flood victims

RICHMOND, Va. -- Forty Red Cross volunteers from Central Virginia are helping thousands of people seeking refuge after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

Volunteer Steven Hoyt, from Charles City County, flew out of Richmond Monday afternoon. He is bound for Austin, Texas.

"My heart strings were tugged. I saw the victims on television and I said it was time for me to do my little part," he said.

Hoyt will find out his assignment once he arrives in Texas. He said he'll most likely get sent to a shelter to help feed people or drive an emergency response vehicle -- ERV -- to deliver food to victims in remote areas.

"They stock the ERV mainly with food. They have special containers that keep food hot or cold. We put food in clamp shells, the Styrofoam containers you see at restaurants. Hand out food, water, snacks and things like that. We keep going until we run out of food and then we go back and restock," Hoyt said.

Red Cross volunteer Steven Hoyt

Hoyt will be in Texas for two weeks. When he comes back, his wife, who is also a Red Cross volunteer, will go to Texas for two weeks.

Hurricane Harvey caused widespread damage across southeastern Texas, and the floodwaters are expected to continue to rise this week.

The Red Cross has already opened more than a dozen shelters and has 40 more on standby.

“It’s such an unknown and it’s a fluid situation so we have to be flexible,” said Mary Brod with the American Red Cross.  “Needs today are not going to be the same needs as we have a couple of days from now, weeks from now and unfortunately a couple of months from now,” Brod added.

“The work we are doing now is focused on sheltering and feeding and so forth but as we get a few weeks down the road we have an awful lot of work to do to help people get back to normal lives,” said Brod.

American Red Cross volunteers took hurricane relief donations over the phone Monday night from CBS 6.

“The best resource right now is a monetary donation.  It’s really hard  to get supplies to locations that are pretty far away,” said Brod.  “The monetary donations we can deploy very easily and get those in the hands that need the money much more quickly.  Dollars are spent on everything from feeding to shelter to follow up case work,” she added.

If you want to donate to the Red Cross, leaders ask you make a monetary donation by visiting RedCross.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting Harvey to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Meanwhile, American Red Cross volunteers are already planning for potential Tropical Cyclone 10, which may evolve into Tropical Storm Irma.

“What they’re concerned about, this tropical depression that’s coming up the coast could turn into a shelter event for the Hampton Roads area,” said American Red Cross volunteer Ken Tate.  “The people who would be the first responders to set up shelter in Hampton Roads are either already in Austin, Texas or soon to be on the way to Austin, Texas.   We’re now dealing with our second tier of responders to say can you be available if this gets worse,” he added.​