Winnipeggers plan impromptu trip to help in Houston

A group of Winnipeggers is dropping everything and heading to Texas next week for a spur-of-the-moment trip to help the relief efforts underway in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

'We'll do whatever we can,' says Ryan Halliday: group will find out what they can do upon arrival

Ryan Halliday, 29, has organized a spur of the moment trip with four other Winnipeggers to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Submitted by Ryan Halliday)

A group of Winnipeggers is dropping everything and heading to Texas next week for a spur-of-the-moment trip to help the relief efforts underway in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

But what they'll do when they get there remains up in the air, says Ryan Halliday, who decided he wanted to go and help just last week after seeing the devastating images of the disaster.

Halliday found four others to make the impromptu trip with him by taking to social media and offering to pay the airfare for anyone willing to join him. The five will fly out Monday morning.

"I didn't really have any plans in place. I just put it out there, asking if there was anyone else out there that's interested and we went from there," explained Halliday, 29, who works at a steel plant and part time at an electronics company.

"It's very impromptu. I said, 'We'll fly down there and I have a car rented … from there, that's all I know.'"

The group will fly to Dallas before driving to Houston, and plan to stay until Friday.

Confident they'll find a way to help

Halliday said he and the others have submitted volunteer application forms to the Red Cross and other local volunteer organizations in the area, but haven't heard back yet.

"We'll see what we end up doing when we get down there," he said, adding he's confident they'll have no trouble finding a way to help once they're on the ground.

"I've seen Facebook posts from people that are down there saying that the different convention centres in the Houston area are taking any and all volunteers.

"We'll do whatever we can, whether it's sorting clothes, unloading trucks of food, whatever it may be."

Also up in the air is exactly where the Winnipeggers will stay while in Houston, said Halliday, who warned the group they may have to "sleep in chairs in the corner at the convention centre" because he doesn't want to take up a hotel room that could go to evacuees.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross register evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Aug. 28 after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding. Ryan Halliday and four other Winnipeggers plan to go to Texas to help relief efforts. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

Halliday's co-worker Roland Flaig is among the four others making the trip. He says a family member with contacts in Houston has asked folks in the area for help finding the group a place to stay, but nothing has been lined up yet.

"We're going to hit the road running when we get there," said Flaig. "This isn't something that I would normally jump into, but it just seemed like the right thing to do.

"It solidified it when Ryan offered to buy the ticket — I'll chalk it up to life experience, I guess."

Halliday, who is dipping into his savings to pay for everyone's airfare, has also collected donated clothing to bring with them on the trip, and said the group has four or five extra suitcases packed with clothing to give to evacuees once they arrive.

"There's just so much not-good news going on nowadays and I just wanted to do something good," he said of why he wanted to go to Houston.

"With everything that's happening in the world, something like this might be small, but hopefully we can do something that helps somebody else down there."

CBC News has reached out to the American Red Cross to inquire about what their role might be.