SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The American Red Cross said that it's stretched thin these days and needs your help.

The responses to Hurricane Florence and the gas line explosions and fires Thursday in the Merrimack Valley are taxing everything from supplies to volunteers.

"We have such large operations happening down south and here in the Lawrence area, the northeast area that it's stretching people very thin," said Mary Nathan with the Red Cross.

Nathan heads up the disaster program for the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts. Her crews dispatched south prior to Florence slamming the Carolinas.

"Most of them are working shelters. The numbers in the shelters keep rising as the flood waters keep rising, so our people down there are very busy," Nathan noted.

Other Red Cross crews from western Massachusetts left within minutes of the explosions that rocked towns to our east, coordinating assistance for affected families lined up at the rescue recovery center in Lawrence.

"The number of people seeking service yesterday was overwhelming. They had the line out the door. They kept the center open extra hours so that no one was sent away," Nathan explained.

That center is back open today.

"They'll open up this recovery center and invite any community agency or government agency that can help with recovery to come to one place, so all of the affected people can come through. It's like one stop shopping," Nathan said.

The national Red Cross is also feeling the pinch. The agency said that thousands of disaster workers from all over the country are helping to shelter feed some 129,000 meals and counting and support people affected by florence.

Nationally, and locally, the Red Cross is asking for help.

"The best way to help is through financial donations because that way we can source what we need in the right places at the right times and the right quantities," Nathan explained.

For more information on how to help the Red Cross, CLICK HERE.

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

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