SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Volunteers with the American Red Cross are busy responding to the gas explosions and fires in eastern Massachusetts.

It's not the only disaster they are busy sending volunteers and resources to.

The American Red Cross of western Massachusetts said for the last few weeks their efforts have been on helping with Hurricane Florence, but that all changed Thursday evening.

"We're there to help and that's what our role is," said Mary Nathan, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager. 

In the midst of tragedy, heartbreak, and disaster for many, the Red Cross is the first sign of hope they see.

"When the Red Cross comes on scene we often see people look like, okay hope is here so now we're going to be taken care of," Nathan added.

"Our focus on the hurricane has not stopped. Our focus was a little diverted last night with everything that's happening in the Northeast with the response for the explosions," Nathan continued.

More than 60 homes in three eastern Massachusetts towns went up in flames after gas explosions Thursday evening.

"It was shock all around throughout the state. Our disaster relief team quickly pulled the team together. We had people on the ground in the first 14 minutes. We have several volunteers that live in the Lawrence area so they were able to quickly work with emergency management and figure out where to stage and how to provide relief," Nathan explained.

With many unanswered questions and families without homes, the Red Cross has been there as the calm in the face of disaster.

"Once we have people in our shelters and recovery centers we were able to keep them calm. Make sure they were getting the information they needed, that they knew they had a meal coming, and they had a place that was safe to stay. People who lost their homes, we will absolutely work with them one-on-one to make sure they have what they need and they can start their recovery," said Nathan.

The Red Cross said they are always looking for more disaster relief volunteers.

For more information on their training process and the types of donations the Red Cross can use as they respond to the tragedy in Merrimack Valley and the storm down south, please visit the link here.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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