NJ sends help down south for Hurricane Matthew cleanup
TRENTON - More New Jersey residents are already down south to help with the cleanup after Hurricane Matthew.
Dianne Concannon, spokeswoman for the New Jersey chapter of the Red Cross, said four volunteers were the first to head south to assist in the evacuation shelters. As of Saturday morning New Jersey sent a total of 11 volunteers.
"They jumped right on it and we got them out," Concannon said, anticipating that more volunteers from New Jersey and around the country will be joining them. "It's a matter of finding out what the needs are and then seeing how we can safely move volunteers to the area."
Mary Sterling, of Freehold, Joan Klimpl, of the Somerset section of Franklin, and Jim Eden, of Margate City, are working at shelters in Florida and Georgia. Avinash Kachhy, of Edison, is helping with disaster services technology in Florida, joining over 1,800 Red Cross disaster workers on the ground already in the southeast.
The Red Cross said they are operating 74 shelters in Florida, 30 shelters in Georgia and 63 shelters in South Carolina and 16 centers in North Carolina with more than 18,450 people.
Matthew was making itself felt in South Carolina Saturday morning. Hurricane-force winds were moving onshore at Hilton Head and Pritchards Island, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center reported. At least one wind gust of 61 mph was recorded at Beaufort, South Carolina.
More than 150,000 electric customers in South Carolina — most in Beaufort and the Charleston area — were without power Saturday morning.
Concannon said that one or two of the New Jersey chapter's emergency response vehicles may also be moved south as well.
"Those are used to feed affected neighborhoods, but that comes after the storm," she said.
Eighty members of New Jersey Task Force 1, representing all of the state's 21 counties, are in South Carolina to assist with cleanup. Laura Connolly, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. said the TF has not yet been given an assignment "but that can all change as the forecast changes and the path (of Matthew) changes."
Connolly said the TF is "ready to go at a moment's notice" and have already established a sleeping pattern in anticipation of an assignment.
JCP&L sent 80 workers from New Jersey to assist with power restoration and are staged in Lake Worth, Florida, with other FirstPower crews.
Atlantic City Electric spokesman Frank Tedesco said the utility sent 100 contractors to Florida and Georgia.
"Additional crews are prepared and ready to deploy if needed,' Tedesco said
The Red Cross is also encouraging blood donations as Matthew caused many blood drives to be canceled.
Ana Montero, regional CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region asked for donations to help with relief efforts.
"The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew in the U.S. by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster," Montero said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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