Public Service Workers on the Front Lines of Hurricane Harvey

hurricane harvey

National Guard rescue people forced out of their homes by Hurricane Harvey.

By NAMITA WAGHRAY and CLYDE WEISS

During what may be the worst natural disaster in Texas history, public service workers and first responders represented by DC 37’s national union are making heroic efforts to keep people alive, restore essential services and protect property.

With at least eight people reported dead so far from Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey – and with flooding in Houston already at historic proportions – stories of courage by state and local government employees will continue to emerge in the coming days.

This we know so far about the work members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are doing on the front lines:

On Saturday, Aug. 26, hardworking members of AFSCME Texas Corrections based in Angleton, Beaumont and Huntsville evacuated approximately 4,500 prisoners from three prison facilities as a precaution when the Brazos River began to flood.

“The truth is, we prepare for emergency evacuation situations like this all the time, I work with the best crew and some of these correctional officers worked all night and the next day,” said Sgt. Jackie Parsonage, a member of AFSCME Local 3114 in Angleton. “In fact, the Brazos River has flooded twice and we have had to evacuate units in May and June. Neither of those situations or what happened today puts anyone in danger – not the inmates or the staff.”

However, Parsonage added, if the transfer had not been properly planned and executed, “the consequences would be grave – but we would never let that happen.”

Elsewhere:

  • An AFSCME member, Cory Marshall, and a firefighter used a truck to rescue two women who were in labor. The firefighter delivered one of the infants in the truck; the other woman delivered her baby at the hospital.
  • Houston municipal workers and road crews – all members of HOPE (Houston Organization of Public Employees) – are working with firefighters and police officers to rescue those trapped by the floods and deliver clean water.
  • AFSCME emergency medical services (EMS) members from California came to Texas to help; their first action was to evacuate a hospital in Victoria, Texas.

Public service workers like these deserve our respect and admiration for putting the safety of their communities ahead of their own. But they, too, get hurt by natural disasters.

There are about 7,400 AFSCME sisters and brothers living in the areas ravaged by Harvey. To help affected AFSCME members, please donate through the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund.

Contributing: Justin Lee.

This post appeared previously on the AFSCME Blog. 

 

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