South Florida residents are stepping up to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
"One of the best things we can do is just be a good listener," said Dan Hager, a Salvation Army volunteer who will be going to Texas. "Sometimes, it’s as simple as just offering them a bottle of cold water."
A three-person crew with the Salvation Army of Palm Beach County left Tuesday morning on a 14-day trip to assist in the disaster relief efforts.
Two volunteers and a chef are driving a mobile canteen truck to Pensacola Tuesday. There, they'll come up with a plan with The Salvation Army to get into Texas and help people.
"Florida is certainly no stranger to severe hurricanes, but this one is different," Hager said. "This one is unprecedented with the flooding. People seem trapped and even getting to them is going to be some endeavor."
This isn’t the first disaster chef Tom Manforte has responded to. In 1992 he was in Miami helping with Hurricane Andrew.
“I think it’s incredibly comforting for them in a bad situation," Manforte said. "They’re not doing well, they’re not happy, trying to survive, but at least this is one less thing they have to worry about."
Salvation Army Major Pierre Smith said the worsening conditions caused a one-day delay in deployment of the Palm Beach County unit.
"All of the roads have been heavily underwater," he said.
Over the weekend and Monday, volunteers loaded and stocked the mobile canteen's kitchen. The kitchen will be able to serve 1,500 meals a day and has a refreshment station to aid first responders.
“I’m going to see the best in people and some of the worst things that can happen, but I just know I’ll be blessed from the experience," Hager said.
The mobile kitchen departing West Palm Beach is one of nine from Florida being deployed to Texas, Major Smith said. They will help support the disaster response teams already positioned in San Antonio, Galveston, Houston and Corpus Christi. So far, Major Smith said 50 mobile kitchens are in Texas.
Donations to support relief efforts as well as a link to the online volunteer course may be found at: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.
Stephen Sunday, of West Palm Beach, was born and raised in Houston. He said he frequently donates to The Salvation Army.
"Everybody needs to pitch in," he said. "If it’s giving money, if it’s even calling and giving moral support as I did."
Sunday said his family members in Corpus Christi are unable to get back home right now. He said he has friends from high school who are stuck inside of their homes.
"The water rises very close to their doors and also to their apartments even when they were on the third floor," he said.