Hundreds Mobilize in SoCal to Help With Storm Relief

A convoy of flatbed trucks loaded with heavy equipment and utility vehicles was being assembled Tuesday. Still needed: blood donations.

With New York City still essentially shut down, and millions of people without power up and down the East Coast, volunteers and emergency workers throughout Southern California are mobilizing to help those affected by superstorm Sandy.

At Southern California Edison on Tuesday, outreach workers hurried to make air travel plans for 170 employee volunteers heading out to help rebuild New York’s devastated electrical system.

Gigantic flatbed carriers, meanwhile, were heading out to the utility’s yard in Menifee, where they will be loaded with heavy equipment and more than a dozen smaller trucks to be sent east in a convoy Wednesday morning.

“Help is on the way,” the utility said on Twitter Tuesday morning. “We’ll be there as soon as we can quickly and safely arrive.”

Other utilities in the state, including Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, are also sending crews.

Among the biggest remaining needs is for donated blood, said Monica Diaz, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Red Cross.

More than 100 blood drives on the East Coast had to be canceled due to the storm, so overwhelmed hospitals and clinics need donations even more, Diaz said.

Information on how to make an appointment to donate blood can be found on the Red Cross' website, she said. Local residents can also make financial donations to help with storm relief.

Another local entity is extending a helping hand to those battered by the superstorm. LA-based Operation USA, which focuses on getting medical supplies and generators to affected areas.

Residents can make financial donations on their website, or by texting OPUSA to 50555 to donate $10 to ongoing relief efforts.

Emergency response teams have also asked for help from outside the beleaguered coastal communities, calling into play a national relief system put in place after Hurricane Katrina, which damaged much of New Orleans in 2005.

As part of that effort, the City of Los Angeles has sent three key fire officials – a battalion chief, a captain and a deputy chief – to handle logistics, emergency services and public affairs for overwhelmed responders, spokesman Chris Ipsen said Tuesday.

At the state level, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday ordered the California Emergency Management Agency and the California National Guard to send volunteers and equipment to areas impacted by the deadly storm.

The California National Guard sent two helicopters and rescue teams to Charlotte, North Carolina, Brown said in a news release. The state also sent three airplanes and two additional helicopters to other areas, along with 83 personnel.

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