Utahns travel to Texas to assist Red Cross in face of Hurricane Harvey

SALT LAKE CITY -- American Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are on their way to Texas to help residents prepare for Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to hit the Gulf Coast this weekend.

The Graves are one couple hitting the road in an emergency disaster vehicle. They left the Salt Lake City area Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t even know where we’re going yet, but we’re leaving for Texas today!" Shannon Graves said when asked where exactly she and her husband were driving.

While they may not know exactly where they're going, they do know they are going wherever they are needed and they have an idea of what to expect.

“We expect to see a lot of people trying to evacuate, a lot of people who need places to sleep and some food to eat," Ed Graves said.

Ed has been on five deployments since his first in 2015 to help in Mississippi with flooding. Shannon has been on two. They most recently went together to Panguitch for the Brian Head Fire and to downtown Salt Lake City for flooding.

“We believe in doing service, and we’ve been busy ever since," Shannon said.

As the hurricane develops and the National Weather Service releases more information, Utah's American Red Cross Communications Director Rich Woodruff said he expects more volunteers will be sent.

“This is what we call one of these all hands on deck situations, where we pull in assets from really all over the country," Woodruff said. "We’re looking at a very, very large event that’s going to require a lot of volunteer support and frankly a lot of financial support."

For the Graves, service work is a big part of their lives. Ed was in the Navy for 30 years and did a lot of hurricane preparedness work.

"I’ve actually been stationed in Corpus Christi, which is part of the area that we’re going to this week," he said.

For Shannon, she understands what it's like to be the one in need.

“I’m originally from Texas and I have a lot of family that is still there," she said. "I had a home that was destroyed and I know what it’s like, and I just like to serve. It’s hard to be on the other side of that table."

The Graves said volunteering for the Red Cross is something everyone should do because it's rewarding and helps more people than they can count.

“When you think there’s not any good in the world, yeah, come and walk in our boots for a little while. Your eyes will be opened. There’s a lot of good," Shannon said.

For more information on how you can help - either by volunteering time or donating money - click here.