Houstonians step up to help victims of deadly volcano eruption in Guatemala

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Guatemala’s disaster agency has ordered new evacuations from areas around the deadly "volcano of fire" because of increased volcanic activity.

That activity is raising the threat of further flows of hot gases and ash, which have so far claimed dozens of lives. The emergency has prompted Houstonians to help victims.

There has been a steady stream of folks coming in all day with donations, all doing what they can to help.

"It was devastating," said Madeline Pena, who lives in Houston.

The images are hard to watch and even harder to endure for some Houstonians who also call Guatemala home.

"Being my birthplace, it's hard to see everything going on over there," said Jeffrey Segura.

They've been checking in with family and friends and said they are still waiting to hear from some.

"We are still looking for one of our cousins," Segura said.

But they're turning their anxiety into action ... collecting supplies at the east end Chamber of Commerce to send to Guatemala.

"I love my country so much and I represent my country everywhere I go, so I immediately knew that I needed to step up help any way I could," Pena said. "The people that live by the volcano are struggling, they're poor people, they don't have much and then without warning everything was taken away from them, so now they have nothing."

Reverend Linda McCarty is CEO of Faith in Practice, a Houston nonprofit that has done medical mission work in Guatemala for 25 years. McCarthy said the needs are overwhelming, especially for Guatemala’s volunteer firefighters.

"They also have no boots; they have all been melted and helmets, so any fire departments who want to support your brothers please send us something and we'll designate it for the fire departments," McCarthy said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Shriners Hospital for children in Galveston sent a team to Guatemala in the hours after the eruption. Hospital officials said they will bring the most critically injured children to the hospital in Galveston.

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