Helping Neighbors in Need

Hurricanes and severe weather sometime result in catastrophe here, but fire remains the greatest disaster threat. On average in the Houston area, at least two families lose their homes and belongings to a devastating fire every day. Pat Hernandez talks about one agency that responds every time.

Last week's tragic daycare house fire claimed the lives of four toddlers. Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison was on hand to help in response.

"And I saw those fire fighters with tears in their eyes for all those children, the ones that survived and the ones we lost, and there's something about carrying a child out of the house. They don't weigh much, when you're carrying them out of the house, but as a fire fighter you absolutely carry that weight for the rest of your career."

Harris County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery
Harris County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery

There were 9-deaths andĀ  41 injuries due to fires last year in Harris County. Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery says that's not counting those who are not hurt.

"There were more than 350 residential fires in the unincorporated area last year. And unfortunately, some of these were apartment fires that displaced hundreds of residents. About a third of the fires that we have in the unincorporated area, very similar to the city of Houston, are cooking fires. Very easily preventable, and in most cases, very easily extinguished."

The Houston area Red Cross helped three thousand people affected by fires last year. Sarita Fulgencio, director of disaster services, says in one recent fire, they responded to families displaced almost as quick as the fire department.

"Our Red Cross case workers met with families whose apartments were destroyed. We interviewed each family and met some of their very basic emergency needs such as: food, clothing, shoes, medications. Our mental health volunteers provided mental health counseling, to help them get through that tragic ordeal."

Houston Fire Chief Garrison says firefighters search, rescue and save lives, contain and control the fire and conserve property. He adds the Red Cross provides an important aspect, customer stabilization.

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison
Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison

"Over the last year, we've had in the city of Houston, two thousand residential fires and the Red Cross has helped with over six hundred of those fires. They've helped us with 900 families and about nine thousand individuals, so they've been a great partner for us."

There is no other organization that delivers the same services at the same time and place they are needed to most. A campaign is now underway until the end of June, so people can show their appreciation by donating to the Red Cross.

For more information, visit theĀ Houston Red Cross Website.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...