Eight firefighters from the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District were among a joint group of 20 with the Kansas City Fire Department that left the metro area early Wednesday evening to assist with water rescues in southeast Texas in the wake of Harvey.

Eddie Saffel, assistant chief of the CJCFD, said the local rescue group was called in Wednesday afternoon, and after leaving the metro area drove through the night and arrived at the staging area in College Station, Texas, less than 100 miles from downtown Houston. Saffel said CJC sent multiple vehicles with its personnel, and the crew likely would be in Texas through early next week.

On Thursday evening, CJC posted on social media that the local crew had been sent to Fort Bend County, which is southwest of Houston, and had been staged at the county's emergency operations center.

They were among 56 Missourians from 18 fire and ambulance departments deployed to Texas to assist with rescue operations, according to the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Missouri Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team with swift water rescue capabilities, has been in Texas since last Friday night and through Wednesday had rescued at least 375 people and 35 pets. Currently it is training Houston firefighters on the use of GPS for wide-area searches.

In addition, the Missouri Air National Guard 139th Airlift Wing began supporting rescue operations on Sunday, the Department of Public Safety said.

HARVEY DONATIONS: Westlake Ace Hardware announced Thursday that will be accepting donations to the American Red Cross from all of its 101 stores. Customers can give donations in-store at the register, regardless if they make a purchase or not, and all donations go directly to the Red Cross.

Westlake Ace Hardware locations in Eastern Jackson County are on Missouri 7 in Blue Springs (north and south of Interstate 70), on U.S. 24 across from William Chrisman High School in Independence, on Missouri 291 and SW Ward Road in Lee's Summit and on Missouri 350 in Raytown.