Updated 10/30/2012 09:18 PM
National Guard and Red Cross assist recovery
Just because we dodged the damage doesn't mean we won't help shoulder the load. The Capital Region scrambles to help our fellow New Yorkers. Solomon Syed has more on the efforts of local Air National Guard and Red Cross volunteers.
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ALBANY, N.Y. – Seventy-five Air National Guard troops deployed from Stratton Air Base Tuesday, while dozens of Red Cross volunteers got their marching orders in Albany. Both groups heading where they're needed most.
"The magnitude keeps growing as the day goes by, we see more and more images of the devastation down there," said Lt. Col. Mike Steindl, the 109th Airlift Wing's group operations commander.
Members of the 109th packed for a week-and-half-long stint downstate, where they'll handle much of the grunt work.
"Probably a lot of sandbags. Hopefully we can get people out of their houses and into some shelters," said SSG Elizabeth Mahan, a therapist with the 109th.
They'll likely work alongside their friends in red.
"We're heading to Long Island," said Red Cross shelter volunteer Steve Schleppegrell. "Setting up beds and feeding people and making sure they're comfortable until they can go back home."
The Red Cross set up shelters in Schoharie and other parts of the Capital Region, anticipating a similar situation to Irene. Now, they have to reassess.
"The preparedness makes a difference in a case like this, so hold tight, help is on the way, we're gonna get through this," said Red Cross spokesperson Erin Caldwell.
Shifting resources involves much more than supplies and manpower. It involves getting people the help they need, both physically, and in some cases, emotionally.
"They're anxious, they're scared, they're overwhelmed," said Red Cross mental health volunteer Andrea Conlee. "I try to help them calm down and mostly I just try to listen, because they just need to be heard."
"This is my first ever deployment, so when they asked me to come in, I was like 'Yeah, definitely!'" said A1C Carl Labarge of the 109th.
"Help them with their morale and get them back to where they're feeling good about themselves and back with their families," said Mahan.
The Red Cross needs some uplifting of its own. Due to Sandy, the organization had to cancel about 300 blood drives.
You can visit the Red Cross website for more information on how you can help.