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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane lends a helping hand to those hurt by Harvey

Ric Gaunt and Timothy Thew, of the American Red Cross, accept a $1 donation by PearlAnn McDaniel for Hurricane Harvey relief, July 28, 2017, at the Rosauers grocery store in Browne’s Addition. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Ric Gaunt and Timothy Thew, of the American Red Cross, accept a $1 donation by PearlAnn McDaniel for Hurricane Harvey relief, July 28, 2017, at the Rosauers grocery store in Browne’s Addition. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Brock Maslonka’s power line company is based in Spokane, but he and his crew happened to be in San Antonio when Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.

Maslonka Powerline Services, which contracts with a Texas power utility, shifted its focus this weekend to help restore power to communities affected by the catastrophic storm.

The company mobilized about 100 pieces of equipment, including trucks and bulldozers, Maslonka said. On Monday they were in Victoria, Texas, about 125 miles from Houston, installing new power poles in the rain-soaked ground, he said.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “The whole town’s out of power.”

Maslonka said his crews would move to another city on Tuesday. He said he may bring in additional workers to speed up repairs but anticipates working in the region for several weeks.

He’s not the only Spokanite assisting with the hurricane response.

American Medical Response has stationed four Spokane-area medics at a convention center in Houston and plans to send more in the coming weeks, said Paul Priest, AMR’s regional director for central and eastern Washington.

One of those medics, John Karuza, has shared several photos and videos of the Houston-area floods on Facebook since Sunday morning.

Priest said first responders from across the country have been working almost nonstop in southeastern Texas.

“This is what we do,” he said. “We hope everybody affected by this will be OK … although we know it will be a long process.”

Meanwhile on Monday, American Red Cross volunteers stood outside Spokane-area Rosauers grocery stores soliciting cash donations for hurricane recovery efforts. The nonprofit says an average of 91 cents of every dollar donated goes toward humanitarian services.

Local TV station KREM set up an online donation portal. Ric Gaunt, a local Red Cross board member, said people also can donate by texting “Harvey” to 90999. Other donation options are explained on the Red Cross website.

The Inland Northwest Blood Center also urged people to donate blood because of increased need in the wake of the storm. Appointments can be made by calling (800) 423-0151 or by visiting inbcsaves.org. Walk-ins are accepted, too.

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