Already-stressed aid organizations in Corpus Christi prepare for busy hurricane season

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Whatever the future brings, Bea Hanson and her team at the Coastal Bend Food Bank will be there to face it. Corpus Christi Caller Times

Hurricane season is here and will stay until the end of November.

The Coastal Bend Food Bank and Salvation Army in Corpus Christi are both prepared if any storm decides to make its way here.

Beatriz B. Hanson, executive director of the Coastal Bend Food Bank, said Hurricane Harvey, in August 2017, provided lots of lessons for the agency.

“We had not had a real hurricane, or a close-hit, like we did with Harvey in many years,” Hanson said. “We do prepare every year. We have our disaster plan in place and review it every year, but we don’t have to put it to work until something happens.”

Hurricane season formally kicked off June 1.

Federal forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month predicted as many as 19 named storms would form, of which as many as 10 will be hurricanes.

Already the Corpus Christi area has been hit with heavy rains that the National Weather Service said were remnants of a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hanson said Hurricane Harvey helped the food bank prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our staff was so well prepared to do the drive-thru distribution without getting close to people and mainting social distance,” Hanson said. “We feel at this point, we have never been better prepared to face another disaster if we had to today.”

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Patrick Gesner, the Salvation Army officer in Corpus Christi, said not only does the group have support from Texas, but it can also draw resources from all of the United States.

“We are prepared as you can be,” Gesner said. “We are watching right now that disturbance located in south Mexico. It could possibly develop into a tropical storm and then a hurricane.”

Warehouses in Dallas and Austin are made available, if any disaster were to hit Corpus Christi, Gesner said.

The effects of COVID-19 caused a wrinkle with Gesner and his work, but said he has easily adapted to the challenges.

“I have a personal experience because my brother in Atlanta, Georgia just got over [COVID-19],” Gesner said.

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Hanson and Gesner said they are stocked up on volunteers for the moment, but are always looking for more.

“We’ve had a lot volunteers in spite of the coronavirus,” Hanson said. “We’re in good shape right now, but volunteers are one thing we can not do without.”

Gesner said new volunteers will have to sign a special waiver.

“We will provide masks and everything for them, but it’s basically a liability waiver saying they understand the challenges and the risks involved with volunteering,” Gesner said.

Hanson said she might feel over-confident in her preparedness, but she is proud in how well-trained her staff is.

“We are ready for this new season,” Hanson said.

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