Fox Valley residents head to East Coast to join in storm relief
BY ERIKA WURST email@example.com October 30, 2012 5:18PM
Waves over 15 feet on Lake Michigan related to Superstorm Sandy attracted kitesurfer Keith Harris of Aurora to the Waukegan beachfront Tuesday. “You hit one or two waves and you think, ‘Yeah, I’m good,’ and the third one just swallows you up,” he said. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
To make a donation toward the Red Cross relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy:
Call — 1-800-RED-CROSS
Visit — www.redcross.org
Text — “REDCROSS” to 90999 on your cell phone to initiate a $10 donation. The donation will show up on your regular phone bill.
Updated: October 30, 2012 10:34PM
Two days ago, Oswego resident Matt Wiskur was at home, watching from the sidelines as Hurricane Sandy made her way toward the East Coast. On Tuesday, he found himself headed straight toward the disaster.
Working for Stanley Steamer, Wiskur and his co-worker filled a truck with dehumidifiers, pumps and fans and drove off to Clifton, N.J., where they will help residents with the restoration of their homes.
“I’m more nervous to see what (the storm) has done than to actually be working in it,” Wiskur said. “We’ve heard some areas are OK, but some are pretty horrific. I guess we’ll see what’s in store for us when we get out there.”
His family isn’t really pleased about his impromptu trip, but to Wiskur, “work’s work.”
“We have to go,” he said. “People need help out there.”
Wiskur is one of several Fox Valley resident headed to the coast. According to Martha Carlos, chief communications officer for the American Red Cross of the Greater Chicago Area, about 10 volunteers and two mobile feeding trucks have been deployed from the local chapter.
Carlos said that an additional eight to 12 volunteers are on deck and ready to head out, as soon as a safe route is determined.
“The need changes by the minute,” Carlos said. “We maintain really close contact with the national office. With this disaster, it appears that flooding is going to be one of the biggest issues. It takes a long time to clean up and get people on the right track... It’s more of a quiet disaster.”
Wiskur plans on being in New Jersey for a minimum of two weeks, and possibly a month.
For Red Cross volunteers, the timeline is about the same.
“We’ll just see how long we’re needed out there. Volunteers are on call and ready to go. They just have to tell us how many (volunteers they need),” Carlos said.
The first round of volunteers the Greater Chicago Area chapter deployed were those with knowledge of setting up shelters, she said.
On Monday, more than 11,000 people spent the night in 258 shelters throughout 16 states as part of the Red Cross efforts.
“Those we deploy in the next few days will be trained in mental health,” Carlos said. “We are negotiating with airlines that have flights available nearby.”
For those who want to help from home, there’s plenty to be done. David Luna, who runs the Aurora non-profit organization 36th Chamber World Relief, hopes to collect 40,000 pounds of supplies to send to the East Coast.
Luna and members of his martial arts studio have collected thousands of pounds of supplies in the past, which have been sent across the world — from Haiti to Peru.
A storage container which can hold up to 40,000 pounds, will be dropped off at his Aurora studio, at 12 N. River St. From now until Thanksgiving, residents can donate blankets, canned food, hygiene supplies, clothing and other necessities that will be shipped out to those in need.
Donations can be dropped off at his studio from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“I think we can do this,” Luna said. “As a community and the Fox Valley, we can make this happen.”
For more information about Luna’s donation drive, call 630-664-1872.