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Red Cross of NNY sends Hurricane Sandy relief help

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The American Red Cross of Northern New York has sent at least three volunteer disaster relief workers where Hurricane Sandy has spread destruction.

On Friday, Timothy J. and Joann M. Schwob, Potsdam, traveled to a Red Cross staff shelter at Aqueduct Raceway, Long Island, to assist with feeding residents there by means of a mobile kitchen.

“We started yesterday, and had waters and meals ready to eat,” Mr. Schwob said. “We distribute lunch and evening meals.”

Mrs. Schwob said the scene was a shock to her, as this is her first deployment as a Red Cross volunteer disaster relief worker. Her husband has been on a few similar deployments since his retirement as a SUNY Potsdam professor.

“It’s a lot of destruction,” Mrs. Schwob said. “There’s debris all over, including refrigerators and furniture in the road. Power is out in many places. There are police directing traffic. People are hurting. Further out on Long Island, people need water because their water has been jeopardized.”

Witnesses to the devastation, the Schwobs said they haven’t seen a sight like that before. The couple said despite sad sights around Long Island-area residents, they have been appreciative of the Red Cross.

Jane G. Gendron, local Red Cross chapter executive, said there is another St. Lawrence County volunteer who also will be a part of the disaster relief effort, but where he or she will be deployed has yet to be determined.

“It’s a big operation,” she said. “Currently there’s nine states that have shelters open due to Hurricane Sandy. The bulk are in New York and New Jersey. It’s going to be a long recovery period. It’ll take a lot of people and a lot of money.”

Mrs. Gendron said the Schwobs drove a Red Cross emergency response vehicle on Wednesday to White Plains, where there was a staging area for volunteers. The vehicle was equipped with supplies such as blankets, cots, first-aid kits,personal hygiene items, water and “anything needed if you pull into an area that doesn’t have a shelter yet set up.”

The local Red Cross would have been able to send volunteers downstate sooner if it didn’t have to prepare for potential devastation in the north country. Mrs. Gendron said 10 shelter sites were ready to be set up if Hurricane Sandy’s path shifted more toward Northern New York.

“We went on stand-down status yesterday when we knew we didn’t need to open shelters here,” she said Friday. “All of our volunteers were on standby until we knew exactly what Sandy was going to do.”

Although she said she expects the entire effort to be a lengthy operation, local Red Cross volunteers are on three-week deployments. They may choose to go back again to help.

Mrs. Gendron said people can make a donation for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, or to the Red Cross in general, by texting REDCROSS to 90999, and a $10 donation to the Red Cross will appear on the donor’s next cellphone bill. North country residents may also drop off a check or mail it to the American Red Cross of Northern New York, 203 N. Hamilton St., Watertown, N.Y. 13601.

People also can call the Red Cross at 1 (800) 733-2767 or visit the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy.

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