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Southern Illinoisans pitch in to help displaced Texans of all kinds

  • Jan Kragness of Johnston City rocks a child, one of more than 100 daily being cared for by a group from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team that is helping evacuees in a Dallas relocation center.

    Jan Kragness of Johnston City rocks a child, one of more than 100 daily being cared for by a group from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team that is helping evacuees in a Dallas relocation center.
    Courtesy of Don Kragness

  • "This guy has the non-contagious version of mange, which has obviously gone untreated for a very very long time," said Dr. Kay Creece. "We can't even tell you what color he is supposed to be. He is still just as sweet as white pie!  We have named him Sam Houston."

    "This guy has the non-contagious version of mange, which has obviously gone untreated for a very very long time," said Dr. Kay Creece. "We can't even tell you what color he is supposed to be. He is still just as sweet as white pie! We have named him Sam Houston."
    Courtesy of St. Francis Animal Rescue

  • This guy and about 55 of his friends were picked up from high-kill shelters in the Houston area to make room for pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey in hopes they may be reunited with their owners.  After vetting they will be available for adoption.

    This guy and about 55 of his friends were picked up from high-kill shelters in the Houston area to make room for pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey in hopes they may be reunited with their owners. After vetting they will be available for adoption.
    Courtesy of St. Francis Animal Rescue

  • These 5,000 cots filled the Dallas evacuation center and were full by Sept. 3. A group from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization is spending the week helping with child care while parents fill out FEMA forms.

    These 5,000 cots filled the Dallas evacuation center and were full by Sept. 3. A group from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization is spending the week helping with child care while parents fill out FEMA forms.
    Courtesy of Don Kragness

  • Former Johnston City Middle School band director Don Kragness plays with youngsters in his charge in a Dallas evacuation center.

    Former Johnston City Middle School band director Don Kragness plays with youngsters in his charge in a Dallas evacuation center.
    Photo courtesy of Jan Kragness

 
 
updated: 9/6/2017 2:27 PM

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey may have devastated Texas but is has also brought out the Texas-sized humanity in many from southern Illinois.

Just a few days after the devastating hurricane hit, a group of volunteers from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief left from the parking lot of the Johnston City Dairy Queen in vehicle loaded with supplies.

Don and Jan Kragness of Johnston City, no strangers to dropping everything and leaving on short notice to help others, are two of 10 that are spending time in a Dallas relocation center this week.

"We'll be helping with child care," said Jan, noting that all the members are trained and certified child care experts.

According to Jan, helping with child care is just one of the ways that volunteers can help to alleviate the stress on those who have been displaced by the disaster.

"The parents have to stand in long lines and fill out endless FEMA forms," she said. "We can care for the kids, play with them, talk, and just cuddle and rock."

While that group worked in Dallas, another group left from Murphysboro's St. Francis Community Animal Rescue to help with "fur babies."

That group rolled back into Murphysboro Saturday evening with about 55 new residents.

"All of these animals were in kill shelters before Hurricane Harvey hit," said Dr. Kay Creece. "We pulled these so there would be room for the ones being rescued."

Making space for the rescues in the Texas shelters allows those animals to be held longer, increasing their chances of being reunited with their owners.

Creece said the new arrivals in Murphysboro will be looking for "loving forever homes" soon. They are currently being checked by the vets and prepared for listing on the facility's Facebook page.

"Many of these babies came with skin issues and will need medication as well as many, many baths to recover," said Creece.

With such a large influx of new residents, the facility could use donations.

"The things we need most right now include Pedigree canned puppy food, Diamond brand dog, cat, puppy, and kitten dry food, dog and puppy shampoo that has no fragrance and no flea/tick stuff in it," Creece said, adding that bleach, paper towels, newspapers, cat litter, and Fabuloso cleaner are always needed.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the Texas rescues can submit an application at www.stfrancis-care.org.