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Aid groups readying for unprecedented damage

By Julie Hays, CNN
updated 6:52 PM EDT, Tue October 30, 2012
New York's Long Island is experiencing gale-force winds and flooding in some areas.
New York's Long Island is experiencing gale-force winds and flooding in some areas.
  • Hurricane Sandy could affect as many as 60 million people
  • Relief organizations are readying supplies and volunteers
  • Red Cross, AmeriCares, Salvation Army and World Vision are preparing in the US
  • International Medical Corps and Operation USA are providing aid to Haiti, Cuba

(CNN) -- Hurricane Sandy could affect as many as 60 million people across the eastern U.S. according to power officials. While some will only loose power, the strong winds, storm surge and pelting rain may cause unprecedented damage for others.

Relief organizations are readying supplies and volunteers to respond as needed. Red Cross has opened 190 shelters along the Eastern Seaboard and has hundreds of disaster workers on standby with emergency supplies.

"Red cross will be here for weeks to come. This is a large-scale disaster response," Red Cross spokeswoman Catherine Barde told CNN. "And really we rely on the generosity of volunteers and the public to be able to support such service, whether it's shelters, mass feeding, all of the services that we are going to be providing.

To find out how to volunteer or make a donation to Red Cross, visit the organization's website or text words "RED CROSS" to 90999 to contribute $10 to disaster relief efforts.

Red Cross is also asking that people in unaffected areas donate blood. The organization shipped supplies to hospitals along the East Coast prior to the storm, but many blood drives in the region have been cancelled which has led to a decrease in supply.

Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to learn more about blood donation or to schedule a donation appointment in your area.

AmeriCares is working with health clinics, food banks and other agencies in vulnerable areas to make sure medical and emergency supplies are available where needed. The organization is preparing to ship chronic care medicine, first aid kits, and other relief supplies to help displaced families.

Go online to make a donation to the AmeriCares Disaster Relief Fund.

Salvation Army says it has hundreds of emergency response vehicles, including mobile canteens and kitchens, on standby. The vehicles will be able to provide thousands of meals to displaced people and first-responders in the storm's wake. The organization is also providing shelter and hygiene kits for evacuees.

For ways to volunteer or to make a contribution to the organization's disaster relief fund, go online.

World Vision is preparing for immediate disaster response and long-term recovery with a specific focus on the needs of children. The organization is readying 400 clean-up kits, 900 emergency food kits and 200 personal hygiene kits in the New York area and hundreds more along the East Coast.

To support World Vision's effort go online to make a donation or text "GIVEUSA" to 777444 to make a $10 contribution to the organization's disaster response.

As the United States braces for the storm, the Caribbean is already cleaning up from the destruction Sandy left behind. Sandy claimed at least 67 lives, 51 in Haiti, as it crossed the region last week.

International Medical Corps has been working in Haiti since 2010. The organization has teams coordinating with local agencies in Haiti to provide emergency supplies and mobile medical units to hard-hit areas.

Go online to support International Medical Corps' emergency response and ongoing work in Haiti.

Operation USA is working to provide access to safe water and support to hospitals and clinics in Cuba. The organization is also providing emergency assistance in Jacmel, Haiti.

Donate to Operation USA online or by phone at 1-800-678-7255 or text "AID" to 50555 to donate $10 to the organization's disaster relief efforts.

For those seeking assistance, you can apply for federal assistance and check the status of your application here. Users can take an anonymous questionnaire to determine which forms of assistance they may be eligible for, apply online, and check the status of the claim.

If you are planning to give to a nonprofit other than any of those listed, make sure to verify that it's legitimate. Charity evaluators like Guidestar and Charity Navigator are good ways to check that the organization you're donating to is established, and that your funds will go where you intend.

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