Day of Giving: American Red Cross raising money for superstorm Sandy relief efforts across 10 states

Phone bank set for Nov. 5 from 6p-8p

CLEVELAND - The Red Cross knows this is a frustrating time for people who have lost their homes, are displaced or are without power, but the organization wants people to know that they are doing everything possible to get help quickly to those affected. 

The organization is in communities right now, providing aid and comfort to people affected by superstorm Sandy -- and they've been there before the storm struck land.

NewsChannel5 and ABC are hoping to help those still struggling after superstorm Sandy, here in Ohio and those along the East Coast, with a Day of Giving.

Beginning Monday, during "Good Morning America," ABC will put out the call for donations during programming throughout the day.

NewsChannel5 is joining the fundraising effort by hosting a phone bank with our local American Red Cross during NewsChannel5 at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. During the phone bank, hosted by Danita Harris and Chris Flanagan, you can call in to make a donation in any dollar amount. You can call (216) 578-0300 or (216) 578-0301 to make a donation.

More than 7,000 people spent Wednesday night in 115 Red Cross shelters spanning nine states including Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The American Red Cross has:

- deployed 12 mobile kitchens capable of making 198,000 meals a day and shipped more than 334,000 shelf-stable meals to the area
- served nearly 164,000 meals so far
- activated more than 230 response vehicles, more than two-thirds of the entire Red Cross fleet, which are beginning to distribute meals, water and snacks in some areas
- mobilized more than 3,300 disaster workers from all over the country
- deployed 50 trailers of relief supplies such as clean-up kits, rakes, shovels, tarps, dust masks and work gloves.

The Red Cross has more help on the way. As roads and airports re-open and people are able to travel again, more workers, vehicles and relief supplies will be arriving.

The Red Cross is working hard to get help to where it is needed, but access into many areas is still difficult.  We will expand our reach into more communities as soon as officials say it's safe.

The response to Sandy is very large and very costly and the Red Cross needs your help:

- To donate visit www.redcross.org , call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected.
- Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Nearly 360 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled due to the storm, representing a loss of as many as 12,000 blood and platelet products. The Red Cross is asking people who are eligible to give blood, especially in places not affected by the storm, to schedule a blood donation now.

- To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, you can visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years old, 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.

The Red Cross urges people to check on their neighbors in affected communities, make sure everyone is okay, and take care of each other until help arrives.

- Everyone should follow the direction of their local officials during this disaster –stay in a safe place and off the roads if possible and do not return home until officials say it is OK.
- To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
- People can let their loved ones know how they are okay by using the "I'm Safe" button on the Red Cross Hurricane App, or registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website.
- The Hurricane App, which also contains safety tips on what people should do after the storm, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
- To register on Safe and Well, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

RETURNING HOME

The Red Cross says people should return home only when officials say it is safe.

- Don't let anyone touch any electrical power lines and report any downed lines to local officials.
- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
- Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
- Check any food for spoilage and throw it out if exposed to temperatures higher

than 40 degrees for two hours or more, or if it has an unusual odor.
- If food has been exposed to floodwaters, dispose of it.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you're sure it's not contaminated.
- If the power is still out, use flashlights, not candles for light.
- Do not use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-­burning device inside a home, garage, basement, or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
- Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

POWER OUTAGES

Millions of people are still without power and people can stay safe by following these tips. If your power is out, the Red Cross recommends the following:

- Use flashlights for light, not candles.
- Don't use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-­burning device inside a home, garage, basement, or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out. Your refrigerator will keep cold for about 4 hours. If the freezer is full, it will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics to avoid damaging them when the power is restored.
- Avoid unnecessary travel as traffic lights will be out and roads congested.
- Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.

FLOODING

Many neighborhoods are still under water. If your neighborhood is flooded, the Red Cross recommends you:

- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon water above your ankles or a flooded road, turn around and go another way.
- Keep children away from the water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flood danger.
- Keep away from loose or downed power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.

SPACE HEATERS

The temperatures are dropping and many people may consider things like kerosene heaters or fireplaces to stay warm. Here are some tips:

- Place the heater on a level, hard and non-flammable surface in the home.
- Keep potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Thousands of people are using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to get information about the storm.

The Red Cross has added digital volunteers to help. As of Thursday, the Red Cross has seen more than 877,000 storm mentions on social media in just a few days.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS

This is a huge relief response, bigger than any one organization can handle. The Red Cross is working closely with government officials and community partners to coordinate this large response.

- Red Cross partners are helping identify sites to be used for things like reception centers and bulk distribution sites. Others are deploying their volunteers to help.
- Organizations that the Red Cross is working with include several labor organizations, the YMCA, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodists Committee on Relief, Latter Day Saints, National Baptist Convention USA, the NAACP, Americorps NCCC, Children's Disaster Services, Islamic Relief USA and Salvation Army and many local businesses and organizations.

FUNDS RAISED

The public has been generous in supporting Red Cross efforts to help the millions of families affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Red Cross's primary focus has been on providing service delivery and we are still processing incoming donations. As of 10 a.m. on Oct. 31, the Red Cross raised more than $11 million in donations. Given the vast extent of human needs caused by Sandy, they welcome the public's continuing donations of money and blood.

REACTIVE USE ONLY - COST ESTIMATE

The first priority of the Red Cross in any disaster is to get people the shelter, food, and support they need. It's not possible to estimate the full impact of this storm

and the total cost so early in the response. But we do know that this is going to be a huge response across multiple states. This is likely to be the biggest Red Cross response in the U.S. in the past five years, with costs in the tens of millions of dollars.

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