Tropical Storm Imelda

Start Date: 09/21/2019


Tropical Storm Imelda hit Southeast Texas on September 18-19 bringing between 20-48 inches of rain throughout my area. Over 350 people are in shelters as of 9/21. The shelter I went to housed about 200 people. There were approximately 15 first responders assigned to this shelter and about 5 Red Cross workers. I reached out to the Red Cross on Friday, September 20 and they invited me to bring one of my HOPE dogs to a shelter that I could access. The two most damaged areas (Vidor and Hamshire-Fannett) were not accessible due to high water. We were asked to go to the shelter at the old Central High School location, 88 Jaguar Dr, Beaumont, TX 77702. Upon arriving, I checked in with the police officer stationed outside who told me a little about the shelter as well as gave me the name of the shelter manager - Mr. Sauter and asked me to find him before I went into the shelter. I found the shelter manager and he was very pleased to see us and said that the people were very stressed as some were going to be transported to a more longer term shelter in Lumberton, TX. He said that we were welcome to go inside and meet the people. Before we went in, there was a girl outside of the shelter who kept calling to my dog and saying "come here Kennedy", it turned out she was at the shelter in 2017 and remembered my other HOPE dog Kennedy. She reassured everyone out front that I had brought a very friendly dog to visit them. Upon entering the shelter, I was immediately bombarded by people wanting to pet my dog. The Red Cross staff yelled out "this shelter does not allow dogs", I approached the table to let them know who I was and that I was asked here by the local Red Cross director and they all said, she is a "working dog", I said yes and then things were good. One of the workers came out and hugged me as she remembered me from Hurricane Harvey. She suggested I have a spot to sit in and have the people come to me, I told her that was a great idea as this was their home and I wanted to be respectful of their space and their things. Within about 5 minutes of arriving, we had a line of people ready to pet my dog. This was the first call-out that my young HOPE dog has done, so I was interested to see how she would do. She was a pro, she was a little nervous at first as there was a lot of noise but once she realized what her job was, she settled in really well and found a lot of laps to climb into. One man came up to us as he thought she was a cocker spaniel, he told me that he has PTSD very badly. Reagan gently went up to him and put her head right in his lap. He started to cry and he asked me how did she know what to do? I told him she sensed he needed her. Several first responders came and sat with us, they said they had been working since early Thursday morning and had not been home. They asked if they could have time to pet her, I told them that she was there for everyone. Eventually the shelter manager came and sat with us, he told me it was the first time he had been able to sit down in probably 8 hours. Reagan knew just what to do and went right up to him to be loved on. We had a great visit today. They wanted me to stay longer but I felt that as a first time call out with this dog a little over 3 hours was perfect for her as it was just the right amount of time. The local Red Cross director texted me after my visit today and thanked me for coming. They have asked me to go back to another shelter but I am waiting for information from them to share with my Regional Director.

Agency: Red Cross