Financial and blood donations needed in the wake of superstormWASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of people from more than a dozen states have turned to the American Red Cross for help and trained disaster workers are responding with food, shelter and comfort. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090108/RedCrossLOGO) "We're caring for thousands of people across the affected region and more help is on the way," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. "We're mobilizing more disaster workers, response vehicles and relief supplies now. The Red Cross response is already very large and could be our biggest U.S. disaster response in the past five years. It will be very costly and we need the public's help." THE RED CROSS RESPONSE With communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffering from widespread power outages, wind damage and significant flooding from Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross has provided more than 23,000 overnight shelter stays since Saturday. Tuesday night, more than 9,000 people stayed in 171 Red Cross shelters across 13 states. On the ground, the Red Cross has more than 2,300 Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country who have served more than 100,800 meals and snacks. The Red Cross has activated nearly 200 emergency response vehicles that are beginning to circulate through some communities distributing meals, water and snacks. While access into many areas is still difficult, the Red Cross is working hard to get help to where it is needed. As roads and airports re-open and people are able to travel again, more Red Cross disaster workers, vehicles and relief supplies will be arriving. HOW TO HELP THOSE AFFECTED "The Red Cross needs both blood and financial donations as this large response effort will continue over the next several weeks," Shimanski said. Approximately 300 Red Cross blood drives have already been cancelled due to the storm, and more are expected. This represents a loss of as many as 10,500 blood and platelet products. The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas where it is safe to do so. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy, as well as countless crises at home and around the world. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone's local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. COPING IN THE AFTERMATH While residents will be anxious to return home, families and individuals should go back to their neighborhoods only when officials have declared the area safe. Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay out of any building that has water around it. Before reentering homes, residents should look for loose power lines, damaged gas lines or other hazards that pose dangers. Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around the home. Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it's not contaminated and check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.