Hurricane Sandy Update: ComEd crews head to NYC

October 31, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In New York City alone, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses lost power as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

"They are really in a bind. They have big problems and they need big-time skills," said Terry Donnelly, ComEd.

ComEd hopes to provide those big-time skills. A group of 35 highly specialized workers left for New York City Friday morning. They are in addition to the 700 who are currently deployed in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Among them are University Park residents Eric Radovanovic and Greg Sternes.

This new group, however, has an additional challenge. The installations are all underground and, at the moment, are flooded.

"With the salt water and electricity you get gases that build up and have an explosive element to deal with in addition to the electric element, said Ed Smykowski, ComEd senior engineer.

Chicago-area volunteers from the American Red Cross are also deploying to the east coast. Charlotte Hazel and Lee Gramas are among 33 who will spend two-week tours of duty helping out with shelter setup and damage assessment.

"We're going in there to offer help. We don't look at whether this is really bad or not quite as bad. We just know we're required to lend support to the community and the people who've been impacted by it," said Hazel.

Because Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of over 300 blood drives, in addition to monetary donations, the American Red Cross is also asking Chicagoans who are able to donate blood.

"Cancelling 300 blood drives is several thousand units of blood, and people still need blood. We're hoping to fill some of that lost supply," said Fran Edwardson, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

While giving to the American Red Cross is always a safe bet, the Better Business Bureau of Chicago Wednesday reminded those who want to donate to be wary of smaller charities, and not to fall for the scams that inevitably pop up when disasters strike.

"You have to be careful of online programs and other things you're not aware of. If you're getting unsolicited emails you want to check them," said Tom Joyce, Better Business Bureau Chicago.

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