- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Volunteers from Wisconsin are providing help as the nation’s fourth-largest city deals with a paralyzing storm that has parked itself over the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday by the National Hurricane Center, but it continues to drench Houston and the surrounding area, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the state has offered to help in any way.

“We’ve offered to reach out to see whatever assistance they need, whether it’s in helping even with temporary or long-term placement for individuals who might be displaced or even just sending equipment, whether it be from the National Guard or through mutual aid agreements from some of our emergency responders,” Walker said.

Kyle Kriegl, the executive director of the American Red Cross’s Northwest Wisconsin Chapter, said over 50 volunteers from Wisconsin are being sent to help with relief efforts in Texas.

“This is similar to a Katrina where we had so many volunteers go down and help,” he said. “This will be going on for weeks, months, maybe even years.”

The volunteers will help with sheltering and feeding people who have been evacuated from flooded areas, Kriegl said.

The BloodCenter of Wisconsin is collecting blood donations for Texas hospitals and already has sent 200 units of blood and platelets to Dallas, said Fay Spano, the organization’s director of public relations.

“Blood collection has been completely suspended in Houston,” she said. “A lot of their donor centers had to close. The blood drives had to be canceled just for logistic reasons in some instances because staff cannot get to the blood donation centers or community blood drives.”

According to the American Red Cross website, more than 1,800 Texas residents took refuge in 34 shelters that were erected over the weekend.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, https://www.wpr.org

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