RENO, NV - At the Toms River High School North in Ocean County, New Jersey, the Red Cross is focusing on the positive: the shelter is safe and there's plenty of food. But not having electricity is making the 400 people who've taken shelter there anxious.
"Right now as we progress and the storm has let up, people are seeking information," says Nancy Barrett, a Red Cross volunteer from Northern Nevada who is supervising the shelter.
Many of those storm victims can't reach family and they don't know what has happened to their homes. Without power, the Red Cross is also in the dark.
"That is probably one of our biggest challenges," says Barrett. "We have no electricity. So cell phones are limited. No TV, no computer access. No technology."
And no idea what's going on outside of their walls.
"I can tell you what's going on in my shelter and that's about it," says Barrett.
Barrett is just one of a handful of Red Cross volunteers deployed from Northern Nevada. She says our recent disasters prepared them to be leaders.
"We all had real life training with the fires in Reno last year," says Barrett, referring to the Caughlin Fire and Washoe Drive Fire. "So we were actually a tremendous value in being used as supervisors. And that was what they were strictly lacking."
She and other volunteers are working on calming victims' nerves and getting people fed. Other things can wait. Just ask the presidential candidates. The Red Cross is one thing they agree on. Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are urging their supporters to help relief efforts by donating to the Red Cross.
"It's critical," says Clara Andriola, American Red Cross CEO. "We don't receive any state or federal funding. We depend on the contributions of people to help. And so it is critical and we would certainly appreciate all donations."
There are several ways to donate:
1. PHONE: 1-800-RED-CROSS
2. ONLINE: www.redcross.org
3. TEXT the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
4. Wells Fargo is also accepting donations at all its ATM's.
Red Cross volunteers say contributing funds is one of the most important things people in Northern Nevada can do to help at this time.