It’s heartbreaking to read the news and watch the images of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy from a distance. While you’re happy to be safe, you want to help; it’s the human way. People are inherently good. We just are.
Whether you’re thousands of miles away or your house simply (and luckily) escaped unscathed, there are things you can do.
Check out this list and do what you can, because there are plenty of people who need it, and need it desperately:
1. Donate to the Red Cross
The cost of cleaning up from the hurricane will be astronomical, says Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “Donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.”
2. Give Blood
According to the Red Cross:
The storm has already caused the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the region, and more cancellations are expected. This has resulted in the loss of several hundred units of blood and platelets so far. The Red Cross has shipped blood products to hospitals in the affected area in advance of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.
To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health.
Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
3. Download the Red Cross App
For your sake or those wondering how you’re doing:
People should download the free Red Cross Hurricane and First Aid apps for mobile devices to have emergency information at their fingertips. The Hurricane App keeps people up-to-date on the situation with weather alerts, locations of Red Cross shelters, and features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media sites to tell family and friends they are okay. And it’s available in Spanish by changing the language setting on someone’s smart phone to Spanish before downloading. The First Aid app includes expert advice for everyday emergencies. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
4. Volunteer at a Shelter
If you’re in New York City or other areas where people had to evacuate, volunteer to help at a shelter — whether donating food, blankets, clothes or toys for children, or simply your time. Call the non-emergency number for your police station, local schools, religious organizations and see how you can get involved.
5. Bring Food, Water, Blankets to the Homeless
Whether it’s an energy bar, bottle of water or sandwich and piece of fruit, there are people who live on the streets full-time who are in all-out crisis mode since their streets are either gone or underwater. Take dry goods from your own home and help out anyone without a home and well-stocked pantry.
6. Offer Hot Showers, Warm Meals and Outlets to Those in the Dark
Some people weren’t evacuated but are still living without water and power. Offer to have them come over for a shower and hot meal and let them charge their cell phones, laptops, and anything else that needs some extra juice.
7. Help Clear Neighborhood Debris
Whether a tree fell in your backyard or on your neighbor’s roof, go outside and pitch in. Clear branches or rake leaves and trash or getting into with a chainsaw. Do what you know, and help where you can.
8. Offer to Watch a Friend or Neighbor’s Kids
Not comfortable working with power tools? Offering to watch your neighbors’ kids so they can start hacking away at what’s impeding their access to the street. It’ll be days before cleaning crews, electric companies, etc., are able to access some areas, so enabling others to get to work while you help take their little ones off their hands (and minds) for a few hours is a huge form of relief.
9. Check On Elderly or Disabled Neighbors
If you live in a building that’s without power and have elderly or disabled neighbors, realize that they might be stuck in the dark without fresh food or water. While you might able to ascend and descend your building’s stairs in the dark, chances are, they won’t. Bring by some groceries or a cooler full of ice and freshly prepared food. See if they need batteries or candles. Check to make sure they have their medical prescriptions, and if not, see if you can help locate an open pharmacy and them pick up what they need. Or, if you’re not in the same state as they are, make authorities (police/fire/Red Cross) aware that they are there, alone and likely in need of assistance.
10. Be Patient
Whether you are an employer anxious for everyone to get back to work or a freelancer who is losing money every day that you can’t get to work — please, be patient. Money is a lot of things, but it really, really, it isn’t everything. Know that bodies are still being recovered, some people are still at high risk for losing their entire homes, and all emergency personnel are prioritizing their efforts accordingly. There is no precedence for this kind of a situation, and the kinder and more patient you are — even while you sit in the dark or without water — the less strenuous this will be on everyone, ultimately.
If you can think of additional ways to help Hurricane Sandy victims, please post in the comment section below.
Photo credit: iStock
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