By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer
— Stories about Superstorm Sandy victims are disheartening, especially when people now without homes are saying the world seems to have forgotten them.
The Red Cross, however, has not.
Local chapter emergency services director Rachel Kruger said the relief organization will be involved in efforts out East for at least a couple of more months. And volunteers are still needed.
Sisters Kay and Jeannie Ribbel of Lake Crystal were two of the most recent local volunteers to answer the call. They left for New York Wednesday and began their duties Thursday. The women will be out East for at least two weeks, volunteering as case workers to evaluate longterm needs of families who need housing.
The storm, which devastated 11 eastern states in October, has required the biggest Red Cross response in the U.S. in the past five years. The storm caused many billions of dollars in damage with the bulk, about $78 billion, in New York City, Long Island and the New Jersey shore.
Nationally, the Red Cross has mobilized more than 16,200 volunteers from all 50 states, provided more than 9 million meals and snacks, and provided more than 80,000 shelter stays, among other things.
The Ribbels are two of about 50 local volunteers who have gone out East for Sandy relief so far. Kruger said it’s important for people not to forget about the scope of the disaster.
“It’s somewhat of a concern because we still have volunteer need,” Kruger said.
When a disaster hits, Kruger said many people come forward to volunteer, but they lack the training necessary to be easily placed where there’s need. So she said now is a great time for folks to seek out their local Red Cross chapter and receive training so they are prepared for the next disaster that inevitably will strike.
Kruger said volunteers are trained in different areas, including shelter, food distribution and logistics, such as fork-lift operation. The Red Cross tries to match people’s interests or special skills with the need.
As for donations, Kruger said the local Red Cross chapter can only accept monetary donations to send for Sandy relief. The chapter can’t take goods, food, clothing or toys because of the logistics of sending the items to where they are needed.
Donations can be given at redcross.org, 1-800-RED-CROSS, or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to give a $10.