Illinois organizations send relief for Sandy

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, area charities and agencies have made contributions to the disaster relief.

Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast Oct. 28 and brought a death count of about 113. At its peak, more than 8 million people were without power, and most of Manhattan was submerged. In response, the American Red Cross and Ameren made efforts to raise money for storm victims.

Ameren Illinois and Ameren Missouri have teamed up to support their fellow power companies. Leigh Morris, Ameren Illinois spokesman, said the two entities sent 437 workers and more than 200 contractors in response to Sandy’s disastrous results. Though employment will be scarce locally, Morris said he doesn’t think it will affect area work production.

“We follow a certain criteria,” he said. “Our main concern is to not leave our own territory vulnerable. We look at the long-term forecast then make a decision based on our analysis. We had help when weather disasters occurred here, and we sent our folks when they had a natural disaster.”

Sandra Webster, director of the American Red Cross’ Little Egypt Network in Murphysboro, said the Red Cross sent two workers, Dick and Carol Daesch, to the East Coast to alleviate some stress brought on by Sandy.

“Dick and Carol are manning the Emergency Response Vehicle, which specializes in mobile speeding, along with distributing rakes, trash bags and other items included in their relief packages,” Webster said.

The American Red Cross placed more than 1,300 volunteers spanning 113 shelters on the East Coast. Webster said other volunteers are standing by, but the best way to help is to donate money for care packages for the affected families. She said donators should not send packaged products because there can be shipment complications.

Chancellor Rita Cheng said in an email Tuesday to faculty, students and staff that university community members have asked how they can help those affected by the superstorm. She said she advises to make donations through the Red Cross, Salvation Army or the Humane Society of the United States.

Some students have begun to donate to the Red Cross through text messages because of its convenience.

“It’s the American way,” said Evan Shaffer, a senior from Maroa studying graphic design. “You always see the U.S. helping any way they can when it comes to disasters. It doesn’t matter if it’s in our country or not; we always seem to be there.”

During the weekend, the American Red Cross also sponsored a concert on NBC that generated more than $23 million in relief donations via text messages and phone calls.

Webster said anyone who wants to add to the cause can text REDCROSS to 90999, or they can call the relief hotline at 800-733-2767.

Cheng said in her email that the SIU community has a history of helping out those in need.

“As you have shown so many times before, ours is a compassionate, generous community that responds in times of need,” she said. “Every donation will make a positive difference in the lives of those facing an incredibly difficult road to recovery.”

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