Local Red Cross volunteers dispatched to East Coast




A group of local volunteers is arriving on the East Coast this week in the wake of Superstorm Sandy’s devastating landfall Oct. 29.

Seven volunteers and one staff member from the American Red Cross of Southwest Washington have been dispatched to New York and New Jersey to aid in the recovery efforts for a region where 1.9 million people were still without power.

The first wave of local Red Cross volunteers left Friday, including two who are making a cross-country road journey to deliver an emergency response vehicle. Two others left for the Jersey shore Monday, while others have already arrived.

As residents of the Eastern Seaboard continue their efforts to pick up the pieces following the deadly storm, the local volunteers will join a network of thousands working to aid others who have been displaced by the late-season hurricane.

“Most people run away from disasters,” said Sheryl Beauchaine, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter. “These people run toward it.”

At least one volunteer will provide information to people displaced by the storm, Beauchaine said, while others will help at shelters, or with client services and care.

The emergency response vehicle will be used to distribute ready-to-eat meals. The Red Cross has sent about 167 vehicles from its fleet to assist storm-ravaged areas.

Beauchaine said that move was unprecedented.

“I can’t remember the last time we called out every single (vehicle),” Beauchaine said.

The local Red Cross volunteers aren’t alone in making the cross-country trek.

Last week, Clark Public Utilities dispatched 11 employees to assist in the massive effort to restore power.

Power outages haven’t been the only ways in which the superstorm has disrupted business.

An estimated 350 blood drives scheduled to take place on the East Coast never did because of the storm, Beauchaine said. That resulted in more than 12,000 units of blood that were never collected.

More blood is needed to replenish the Red Cross’ national supply, Beauchaine said.

The Red Cross is accepting donations to help in recovery efforts. People can donate by texting REDCROSS to 90999 ($10 per text). The agency does not accept in-kind or physical donations, such as clothing or other supplies.

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; tyler.graf@columbian.com.