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Efforts to help Texas recover from the destructive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey are ramping up across South Carolina.
Aid is planned in the form of blood, food and water donations and technical assistance for first responders in the area. National Weather Service forecasts estimate that rainfall totals could reach 50 inches in some Houston areas before Harvey moves out of the area.
“The magnitude of flooding and damage that Hurricane Harvey has brought to Texas is truly heartbreaking, but the heroic action and sacrifice by thousands of volunteers and first responders give inspiration to the nation,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.
McMaster announced Tuesday the state had received an official emergency assistance request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
S.C. Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams were deployed to Texas to help with rescue operations, McMaster said in a statement. McMaster also signed an executive order that placed the S.C. National Guard on state duty in support of Texas.
The Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams each consist of a Black Hawk Army helicopter with soldiers from the National Guard and rescue swimmers from the State Fire Emergency Response Task Force. Each team has a total of eight soldiers and nine rescue swimmers.
In Spartanburg County, individual residents and local agencies are planning to send supplies to victims and first responders in Texas.
The Blood Connection is urging Upstate residents to donate blood for those in the Houston area, since blood centers near the city have been shut down by flooding and could remain closed through the week.
“There’s still patients out there needing blood, but all this week (the blood centers) are out of commission,” said Donna Ehrlich, Blood Connection spokeswoman. “It’ll be over a week before they’re operational to collect blood again.”
A mobile blood drive was set up Tuesday at Spartanburg Community College’s main campus.
Ehrlich said more than 50 platelets were sent to the Houston area this past weekend, with additional platelets and whole blood being sent to the area this week.
“We’re meeting the needs of our hospitals first. We’re trying to get as many people to come out as they can and everything we can spare we will ship down there,” Ehrlich said.
Spartanburg District 1 schools will collect bottled water for those in the Houston area later this week.
Water can be dropped off at any District 1 school Thursday and Friday, and special collection areas will be set up during drop-off and pickup each day.
The S.C. Forestry Commission plans to send 18 members of its Incident Management Team to Texas Wednesday to help with flood recovery. Team members will provide organizational structure to improve relief efficiency.
The Rev. Tim Drum, chaplain at Spartanburg Methodist College, said students and faculty at the college are being encouraged to donate hygiene and toiletry items, along with canned food, bottled water and cash or checks.
Donations can be made to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Drum said.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to all in Texas who have been displaced, injured or lost loved ones,” he said. “Faculty, staff and students have been notified of several different ways they can participate in a campus-wide relief effort.”
Local Salvation Army officials said the best way to aid those in Houston is with monetary donations. Donations can be made by texting STORM to 51555 or by calling the agency at 1-800-725-2769.
Anyone interested in donating blood can visit the Blood Connection’s Spartanburg donation center at North Grove Medical Park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Additional staff is available at the center to handle more donors, Ehrlich said.
Haylon Card, a student at SCC, donated blood Tuesday morning.
Card, 28, said he has given blood regularly for about a decade and recognized the need for more donations in Harvey’s wake.
“It’s definitely worth (giving blood). You can save a life,” he said.
Eugenia Hooker, the director of the early college program at SCC, said she was happy to contribute to the emergency effort in Texas by giving blood.
“I was searching online yesterday evening to see how I might be able to help with that situation with Hurricane Harvey. I’m grateful to be able to help,” Hooker said. “It’s just incredible what they’re going through there. I’m so sick for them, just heartsick for them.”