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Colorado Relief Organizations Mobilize To Help Hurricane Victims

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CBS4's Jennifer Brice talks with Patricia Billinger from the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice talks with Patricia Billinger from the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Relief organizations from across the country, including in Colorado are on their way to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Colorado chapters of the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had people in place before the storm hit. Damage assessments are being done now, which will tell what’s needed.

Help come in all forms. The Red Cross also offers “virtual” help. As they mobilize people into the disaster zones they also have a “digital dock” — a team of people scouring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter looking for people affected by the storm.

Social media sites are loaded with “virtual hugs” from the Red Cross to people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“Over the weekend over 181,000 social media posts that we were monitoring and trying to respond to, so that if they have that information, that reassurance, that really helps them get through a tough time,” Patricia Billinger with the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross said.

Billinger also pre-positioned four volunteers in New Jersey prior Sandy’s landfall, and many more will follow.

“This is a massive response,” she said.

The response includes opening and staffing shelters to offering counseling. Billinger says 11,000 people stayed in shelters across 16 states Monday night.

“Boots on the ground, out the door,” FEMA Regional Director Robin Finegan said.

FEMA Region 8, which includes Colorado, also placed 10 people in Connecticut prior to storm landfall, and many more leave in the coming days.

“We’re still in response mode and until people have to opportunity to get out and look and see what the situation is; get the ground truth and assess what kind of damage there is, will we really know what kind of requirements will be from our folks,” Finegan said.

Colorado Xcel Energy will send 22 trucks and 38 employees to West Virginia Wednesday morning to help restore widespread power outages.

LINKS: Red Cross | FEMA

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