Safe food, water and shelter – the basic human needs - are the biggest concerns across the Rio Grande Valley in the aftermath of Hurricane Dolly, and officials also are trying to keep people safe from scams.
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service, a state adult education agency with staff in every county, has begun reaching out to people with information aimed at recovery.
In a teleconference Monday, AgriLife Extension agents said they have begun distributing information on a variety of topics and are helping pass along messages from other state agencies. For example, they said, people in their counties have reported several scams being attempted on victims. In one such exploitation, people are given a bogus $500 food voucher in exchange for Social Security numbers by people representing themselves as government officials.
The AgriLife Extension agents are advising people in their educational efforts that the Texas Attorney General’s office has set up a special number to report scams and fraudulent activities resulting from Hurricane Dolly. To report such activity, call 800-252-8011.
Also, those who have insurance will have a means to try to recover. But Joyce Cavanaugh, AgriLife Extension family economics specialist, said people should take pictures of the damage as soon after the storm as possible to document and aid in quick insurance assistance.
Cavanaugh also said the Texas Department of Insurance has a help line for consumers. Call 800-252-3439.
AgriLife Extension specialists noted several publications are available online and have been distributed in the valley at libraries and clinics. They also can be obtained through the AgriLife Extension office Cameron and Hidalgo counties. For online versions, go to AgriLife Extension Bookstore and click Disasters and Emergencies:
"Disinfecting Water after a Disaster" – ER-002 and ER-002S (Spanish version)
"Caring for Important Papers after a Flood" – ER-003 and ER-003S
"Cooking When the Power Goes Off" – ER-006 and ER-006S
"Controlling Mold Growth after the Storm" – ER-010 and ER-010S
Numerous other publications are available at that site.
Additionally, there are numerous Public Service Announcements available for listening online http://agnews.tamu.edu/issues/hurricane/  broadcast. They can be found in English and Spanish.