WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Millions of people have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, and the best way for other parts of the U.S. to help those victims is not by donating food or clothing. It's by donating cash and blood.
The cash would go directly to meet specific needs in flooded areas, according to a Purdue University disaster education specialist.
"Cash is best," Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network homeland security project director Steve Cain said. "It is better to donate cash instead of goods because local responders can more readily convert that into what's needed."
Blood is also always in high demand, and especially in times of disaster. You can find out more about donating blood by heading to the Indiana Blood Center website.
Cain is also the president of the national disaster-aid relief group Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. Purdue Extension is a member of this group.
Cain said people wanting to help can donate cash by heading to the group's site.
The reason researchers say clothing and household-item donations are not as needed right now is that they can become difficult for disaster responders to handle and might not be needed at all.
Cain suggested that if you have goods you want to donate, it might be more effective to sell the items at a garage sale and donate the money you raise.
"It is best to know the need," he said. "For example, if you have a sister city or faith-based organization in the affected area, see what they need and confirm that need."
Cain offered other tenets of advice for those wanting to get involved.
Be an affiliated volunteer.
Don't go to affected areas without aligning yourself with a recognized organization that has the means and the ability," he said. VOAD has a list of affiliated members and partners.
"It may be too late for this disaster to get affiliated, but use this one to prepare for the next one," said Cain, who helped to coordinate hundreds of volunteers in the aftermath of the tornadoes in Henryville and other areas of southern Indiana in March. "I know from experience that managing a massive influx of volunteers can overload the local system."
Other volunteers who are professionally or more directly connected to disaster response should start with their state emergency management agency. In Indiana, that is the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
"If you do volunteer, have a disaster supplies kit so that you aren't one of the victims you are trying to help," Cain said. "And, again, affiliate with an organization that has experience."
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