California businesses and volunteers are joining in the disaster relief efforts to help the the thousands of people in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Four days after the storm ravaged the Texas coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, authorities and family members have reported more than a dozen deaths from Harvey. They include a woman killed when heavy rain sent a large oak tree crashing onto her trailer and another woman who apparently drowned after her vehicle was swept off a bridge.
Houston police confirmed that a 60-year-old officer drowned in his patrol car after he became trapped in high water while driving to work. Sgt. Steve Perez had been with the force for 34 years.
Six members of a family were feared dead after their van sank into a drainage channel in East Houston. A Houston hotel said one of its employees disappeared while helping about 100 guests and workers evacuate the building.
Authorities acknowledge that fatalities from Harvey could soar once the floodwaters start to recede from one of America's largest metropolitan centers.
A pair of 70-year-old reservoir dams that protect downtown Houston and a levee in a suburban subdivision began overflowing Tuesday, adding to the rising floodwaters.
After five consecutive days of rain, Harvey set a new continental U.S. record for rainfall for a tropical system.
The rains in Cedar Bayou, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, totaled 51.88 inches (132 centimeters) as of Tuesday afternoon. That's a record for both Texas and the continental United States, but it does not quite surpass the 52 inches (133 centimeters) from Tropical Cyclone Hiki in Kauai, Hawaii, in 1950, before Hawaii became a state.
The previous record was 48 inches (122 centimeters) set in 1978 in Medina, Texas, by Tropical Storm Amelia. A weather station southeast of Houston reported 49.32 inches (125 centimeters) of rain.
Before it breaks up, Harvey could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey's path. Foreboding images of Harvey lit up weather radar screens on the 12th anniversary of the day Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish.
Thousands of people have been displaced by the flooding. The Toyota Center — home of the NBA's Rockets — has been opened as a shelter to help reduce overflow at the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center, which is now sheltering 10,000 people. Officials had initially planned to have 5,000 individuals at the convention center.
The American Red Cross has mobilized hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers — including six from Northern California — truckloads of kitchen supplies as well as tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals to support this response effort, along with a number of other relief organizations.
Local businesses are also aiding in relief efforts. Sutter Health announced it was giving a $250,000 donation to the American Red Cross Gold Country Region to support disaster relief efforts across Texas.
"We want the people of Texas to know that they're not alone, and we hope our donation will help bring safety, shelter, comfort and relief to those in need," said Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health. "Now is the time for communities across the nation to come together and support the first responders and help those who have lost so much."
All 83 Save Mart Supermarkets in California and Northern Nevada stores are collecting monetary donations for the American Red Cross relief efforts in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Shoppers can donate any amount at checkout, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be appropriated to where the Red Cross sees the greatest need. The donation will be printed on the receipt, so shoppers have a record of their tax-deductible donation. Donations will be accepted through Sept. 4.
Food 4 Less stores will be accepting donations from customers through Sept. 9 to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Customer donations will be accepted at special-marketed coin boxes located at the checkstands in all Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores in Southern California, as well as at the company's 21 stores in Central and Northern California, and at 14 Food 4 Less stores serving the greater Chicago, Illinois area. All monies collected will be forwarded directly to the American Red Cross for relief efforts tied to the hurricane that has battered southeast Texas.
In conjunction with the American Red Cross Gold Country Region, the Sacramento Kings have developed three specific initiatives that will roll out in the next few days to help support Gulf Coast disaster relief, with 100 percent of every donation will going directly to the American Red Cross to support efforts to aid communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
Sacramento Kings staff are now serving American Red Cross volunteers. They anticipate making over 5,000 phone calls to help raise funds that will directly benefit Gulf Coast communities. In addition to volunteering staff time, the Sacramento Kings will call upon their fans to donate as they purchase game tickets for the 2017-18 season. The Kings will include donation options for generous fans to support American Red Cross initiatives.
Rookies De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson will also call upon the Sacramento community to support Hurricane Harvey victims through a public service announcement. Both have direct ties to the Houston region, and will turn to their new Sacramento community, as well as Kings fans, to help in the spirit of the Kings Foundation to: “Do Good, Impact the World, Make Sacramento Proud.”
In the coming weeks, Golden 1 Center visitors will have an opportunity to donate directly at Local Eats stands during concerts, games and events. At two upcoming Kings games, including the season opener against the Houston Rockets, the Kings Foundation 50/50 Raffle proceeds will directly benefit the American Red Cross. The organization will also continue to work with the local American Red Cross chapter on future disaster preparedness initiatives that potentially could impact Northern California.
For information on how you can help support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.
— Journal editor Kristina Hacker and The Associated Press contributed to this story.