Red Cross sends Panhandle help to Superstorm Sandy victims

The local Red Cross has sent help to the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

The Texas Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross has sent a disaster services human resources volunteer to New York on Saturday to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy.

The storm's characteristics have changed, modifying the storm from a hurricane to a superstorm. But just the same, buildings are being destroyed up and down the East Coast, driving people out of their homes.

"We actually deploy at least one person- sometimes three to four or five- to tornadoes, hurricanes, everything that's been happening across the country," Texas Panhandle Chapter Red Cross Emergency Services Field Specialist Martha Riddlespurger said. "We had people at the Colorado wildfires. We went to to Mississippi. We've had people in Montana and North Dakota. We generally help out wherever we can. So, we usually deploy at least one person every time."

Superstorm Sandy has already claimed the lives of 67 people- 51 of them were in Haiti. Many people have been evacuated in hopes of avoiding more casualties. That is why the local Red Cross sent Nick Rocha to Port Chester High School in New York- he has joined other volunteers at Port Chester High School, and is making sure victims at the shelter have what they need.

"He'll make sure that the people there are comfortable, that they're safe, that their needs are being met, that they're fed," Riddlespurger said. "I understand it's going to be very cold up there with power outages, so whatever they can do to keep those people warm- he'll be taking care of all that sort of thing. And a little bit of counseling thrown in with it...."

Rocha was sent to New York before the storm hit.

"At this particular time, all of the deployments have been halted because of the weather- no ability to get it," Riddlespurger pointed out. "At the end of the week when the storm is over, if there is more need, there is a possibility we will send more people out. We have another URV driver who could go, a transportation person, we have another mass care person."

The American Red Cross operates solely on donations- it is not funded by the government. Riddlespurger added the non-profit organization is always in need of support, especially when disasters like Superstorm Sandy occur.

"Disaster Services is a very expensive thing, so we appreciate any donations we can get from the American public."

Power outages have occurred in several states. Excel Energy Spokesperson Wes Reeves said no one from Amarillo has been called to the East Coast, yet. But it is a possibility.

"We have not been asked to send help to the East Coast at this point," he said, "but we have a long history of providing assistance. If asked, we will review the request and respond after evaluating the timing and our resources."

Superstorm Sandy is expected to dissipate by Sunday.