Buffalo, NY - The nation watched as Hurricane Sandy damaged in minutes what it took New Yorkers years to build. Western New Yorkers answered the calls for help with donations to the Red Cross and much more.
Local members of the National Guard deployed without knowing what they would be asked to do. MSG Laura Thomas said, "It's just really nice to be able to say that you can help other people that are having problems." The 107th helped evacuate patients from Bellevue Hospital.
Some local Red Cross volunteers headed out even before the storm hit.
Other volunteers followed right after to manage shelters and help feed those in trouble. They also worked to assess the damage and provide counseling.
Seven UB Nursing students and an instructor also volunteered to help. Lyndsey Conway, Katie Crudele, Priscilla Lau, Cate McKinnon, Jennifer Netter, Michelle Secrist and Noelle Zinn and Clinical Instructor Joann Sands travelled to Yaphank, N.Y. on Long Island to help care for patients. They are glad to give back.
Emergency Management Services from Erie, Cattaraugus and Livingston Counties traveled to Nassau County to help make sure the right people are in the right places to make the most difference. Gregory Butcher with Erie County Emergency Services said, "Whether it's a storm related incident or a man-made type of disaster such as a plane crash we've had support come from the other side of the state and in this case we're going to be laying our support to the other side." Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth said, "I think what really needs to be appreciated are the family members... You can see. You can feel. You can touch the disaster, and stay out of harm's way. They don't know what you're seeing. They don't know what your feeling, or what your seeing. So, it is tough on the family."
Emergency vehicles from our area also went to help the relief effort, serviced by local mechanics to be in the best shape. Mechanic R.J. Bevilacqua said, "It feels great to be a part of it. Actually, they're really doing the major job. I'm just taking care of the vehicles. Just trying to do my part."
We asked on facebook and twitter how you are helping. Most people said prayers. Todd Wilcox who is a steel hauler from Medina wrote this; "Took a load of sump pumps to Edison, NJ... very excited to get them."
2 On Your Side's Theresa DeLuca spoke with him on the phone right when he got back from the trip. He said it was eerie to drive when there were no lights and no traffic, but people needed the sump pumps right away when he arrived.
It's a need that will continue with Hurricane Sandy's estimated economic impact as high as $50 Billion.
You can still help by donating to the Red Cross.