American Red Cross volunteers assisting with massive Sandy cleanup

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Once a hurricane, superstorm Sandy made landfall Monday, October 29th, and left widespread damage along the nation's east coast. The American Red Cross is just one agency working to help with the massive cleanup effort on the heels of this storm.

A Red Cross crew from Milwaukee packed a truck and headed to the east coast Sunday, October 28th in anticipation of Sandy's fury.

Volunteer Barbara Behling was set up in the Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C. Tuesday -- one day after the storm made landfall. The D.C. Center is the hub of the American Red Cross services and is where crews are dispatched from.

"With some of the evacuations happening in New Jersey, the state of Pennsylvania is taking evacuees and setting up what we call mega shelters. We are helping provide additional staffing, resources, nurses, mental health professionals, etc.," Behling said.

The mega shelters can handle several hundred people at one time. Monday night, 11,000 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters in 16 states.

"The damage isn't done yet -- in part because there is some ongoing flooding, and there are some breaches that started this morning. Then, we have a tremendous blizzard that is now hitting the western parts of Pennsylvania, new jersey, etc., so that's going to create really the perfect storm of issues as we start to respond," Behling said.

Behling says the recovery effort is massive, and she expects more trained responders in Wisconsin, and especially Milwaukee, to join the endeavour.

Behling told FOX6 News she had a chance to shake hands with President Barack Obama Tuesday when he stopped by the D.C. Center for a briefing.

Behling said citizens have a role to play in the recovery effort as well, by donating money and blood. She says more than 300 blood drives across the eastern seaboard had to be postponed or cancelled -- creating a shortage of blood products.

Once there's enough blood for local hospitals, the rest can go through a national network where it can be shipped across the country.

CLICK HERE to make a donation to the American Red Cross, or for more information on making a blood donation.

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