Helping with Hurricane Sandy Relief
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 16:11
As North Dakota faced its first weeks of snow and cold weather, volunteers shipped out to the East Coast to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and second in cost of damages only to Hurricane Katrina.
Thirteen North Dakota Red Cross volunteers have been dispatched to the affected areas. Five volunteers went as a sheltering team the Saturday before the storm hit to help set up one of 258 shelters across thirteen states. Randy Johnson, the Regional CEO of Red Cross in Fargo, said these shelters probably had about 11,000 people.
After the storm, Johnson said North Dakota sent out four ERVs, or emergency response vehicles, with teams of two people to drive out there. There are 18 kitchens set up by Southern Baptists in the most affected areas along the coast that make thousands of meals each day.
“ERVs are assigned to one of those kitchens and loaded up with hot meals, and bring them up devastated streets,” providing those in the devastated areas with hot lunch and dinner every day, Johnson said.
Randy Schatz was one of the first volunteers to reach New Jersey, and once there, WDAY interviewed him about what he saw and how to help Sandy victims.
Volunteering and blood or money donations are the best ways to help.
Although a lot of people think that giving items like sweaters or scarves will help, the Red Cross cannot except those items and do not have the means to deal with them, Johnson said.
The Red Cross sponsored two events this week. One took place on Tuesday, called Disaster Assessment Basics, and “Understanding the National Deployment Process” will run tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. This event will help people better understand how to help with national events.
“[This event] will cover the different software programs utilized by the Red Cross,” Sean Coffman, emergency services director at American Red Cross wrote in an email. It will also cover what it means to be deployed for the Red Cross and what a volunteer does once landing at a disaster site.
Other classes sponsored by the Red Cross are Disaster Kitchen Training on Nov. 13 and Disaster Overview Training in December. To register or look up classes, visit www.classes.redcross.org.
Many people do not think about giving blood when trying to help with disasters like Sandy. On the East Coast, many scheduled blood drives were canceled,
and those blood banks were not able to keep up with their goals. Because of this, they are low and are accepting all blood types.
United Blood Services is holding a blood drive on Nov. 15 at the Fargo South High School, and appointments can also be scheduled on their website.
There are also several organizations taking donations in order to support victims of Sandy. The Salvation Army has shelters set up and is helping with food, hydration, emotional, spiritual and shelter care. The Red Cross and ELCA are also accepting donations for the relief effort.
During Monday’s Red Cross Day of giving, ABC and Red Cross worked together to encourage donations. Since the first days of Sandy relief, the Red Cross has provided more than one million meals and snacks, as well as over 92,500 overnight shelter stays, according to their website.
In order to continue this relief, Disney and ABC teamed up with the Red Cross to add publicity. ABC shows publicize the Day of Giving, and anyone can participate in multiple ways. One way is to text ABC to 90999, which will donate $10 to the Red Cross.
“It’s a great thing for students,” Johnson said, because it is easy and quick. Another way to donate is online at http://www.redcross.org/abc or on the phone at 1-800-HELP-NOW. All of these methods will be open for an undetermined amount of time, and their normal donation sites are open as well.
Any amount of money is going to help out, and that $10 text donation could make a huge difference. Instead of going to dinner or the bar on Friday, watch the free movie or take advantage of the free bowling on campus.
“Twenty dollars would probably feed a New Jersey family of five for a day,” Johnson said.
Johnson only has 14 people on his staff, but he has 500 volunteers.
“This is not anything that is a surprise to the Red Cross, as far as handling things like this; this is what we do,” Johnson said. “The only way it happens though is if we have volunteers and we have donors.”