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Local aid agencies offer help to those affected by Harvey

Ellen Abbott
The Salvation Army is taking donations at it's location at the New York State Fair

Several central New York organizations are planning relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has dumped more than 50 inches of rain across parts of southeast Texas.

The ubiquitous Salvation Army red kettle is usually a sign of the holidays. This week, it’s at the New York State Fair, and fairgoers are stuffing bills in the kettle at the Salvation Army’s display, as they look for ways to help the victims of Harvey.

“At the end of this, we’re probably going to have 30,000 families who have no home to go back to. So there will be a huge need,” said Michael Schwartz, Director of Emergency Disaster Services for the Salvation Army’s Empire Division. “ It’s impacting in some way, shape or form, about 12 million people.”

Schwartz has been on daily conference calls learning about the scope of the disaster, and the agency is in the midst of relief efforts.

“This is going to be a multi-month operation, and we will have volunteers going down. We have already sent resources down. We already sent 40,000 clean up kits from the Utica area,” said Schwartz.

Besides the Red Kettle, the Salvation Army is accepting donations online.

Also on the front lines is the American Red Cross. Rosie Taravella, the regional CEO of Western and Central New York, says 47 upstate volunteers have already left for Texas.

“They are also bringing our emergency relief vehicle,” said Taravella. “There’s at least four from our fleet in New York State. Those will be used once we get down there for distribution of food and cleaning items.”

A telethon broadcast on local television last night raised more than $63,000 for victims, and Taravella says the Red Cross will also accept donations online for a relief effort that is expected to last years.