Western Mass Red Cross volunteers headed to Sandy-ravaged states - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western Mass Red Cross volunteers headed to Sandy-ravaged states

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Massachusetts seemed to make it through Sandy without much damage done.

Other states weren't so lucky.

Now Red Cross volunteers from Western Mass are headed down to New York and Connecticut to help operate shelters.

"This is the perfect opportunity for me to really thank all of them, to go out now and help all of our neighbors and sister chapters out there," said Red Cross volunteer Kate Leene.

She remembers what it was like when a tornado, a hurricane and a nor'easter hit Western Mass.

"There were individuals from all over the United States that came here to help us," she said.

It's gratitude that is compelling the South Hadley native and several others from the area to cross state lines and join forces with Red Cross chapters working in areas hit hardest by Sandy.

"We had 500 people who came from other parts of the United States to help us when we were in need, that really is a motivator to our volunteers," said Director of the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter Rick Lee.

The local chapter of the Red Cross was prepared for potential situations that Sandy could have brought to Western Mass.

But thankfully, the area didn't take that hard of a hit from the storm.

"When we're not hit as we weren't hit very hard last night, we feel first great gratitude for that and second that we've got to get out there and help the people that were hit," Lee said.

Neighbors to the south in Connecticut and New York weren't so lucky, as seawater swelled over shorelines, destroying homes and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate.

"Having fresh troops to come in from outside to pick up your burden and carry it for you, it's just an indescribable experience," Lee said.

Now volunteers like Leene are headed to New York to do just that.

"I feel like that's our job as human beings, really, to help each other and to work together and this is what it's all about," Leene said.  

She is being assigned to Westchester, NY, where she will help operate a shelter for a few days before moving on to Long Island.

Other Western Mass Red Cross volunteers will be sent to White Plains before being deployed to regional shelters and also to Connecticut.

To learn how you can help visit redcross.org.

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