Western WI Red Cross volunteers return from Sandy

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ALTOONA, Wisc. (WEAU) - After two weeks serving thousands, three volunteers from the Western Wisconsin Red Cross have returned home.

The Red Cross said there are still about 62,000 homes without power in the New York area. About 1,800 people are still in shelters, unable to return to their homes.

Nearly six million meals and two million relief items have been delivered through the efforts of nearly 9,000 volunteers from the Red Cross.

Nearly three weeks after they were deployed to New York, Deb Swan and Dave Nuesse of Eau Claire and Donna Borner of Menomonie are home from serving the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Spanning several disaster areas of New York, the three said they saw the worst and best of what Sandy delivered.

"It's always heartbreaking to see people struggling," Swan said. "I heard a gal tell me she had waited too long to get out and she ended up swimming over her eight foot fence."

"We saw between eight and 10 homes washed out from foundations, tumbled into a marshy area near the coast," the disaster assessment worker Nuesse said.

"When we would deliver (food and supplies), they would say, 'I have this you can borrow it from me, I've got this,' to people in their own neighborhoods, that's the most memorable to me ... Just seeing the communities and people coming together," Swan said.

But the volunteers said for many, still in shelters, without power and nowhere else to turn, the need for help remains.

"The emergency situation is still there. It has not gone away yet," the shelter manager, Borner said.

"You feel very grateful where we live and what we have," Swan said.

"This was a monstrous storm and it's going to take a long time of recovery," Nuesse said.

Swan said she might go back to help after Thanksgiving.

For information on how to volunteer or donate, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or (877)618-6628.

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