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Red Cross volunteers in place to help Sandy victims
Area residents sent to New York, Maryland, West Virginia
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American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia volunteers and area utility workers have been deployed to the Northeast, where they are readying to provide aid to superstorm Sandy victims.

Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said that about seven people from Hall County left Sunday morning as part of an Atlanta-area team made up primarily of linemen and engineers.

“They are en route to Baltimore Gas and Electric (Co.), ultimately,” Kraft said Monday.

A second group from other parts of Georgia left Monday morning.

Jackson Electric Membership Corp., based in Jefferson, sent about 20 workers — one crew from Gwinnett County and another from its Oakwood office — to Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, spokesman Mark Owen said.

“They are up there waiting, just like all the residents, to see what exactly will happen,” Owen said. “They are ... ready to spring into action as soon as needed.”

Michael Steffen of Hall County and Paul Mullins of Cherokee County are part of two separate Northeast Georgia Red Cross teams preparing to render aid, said Joni Smith, executive director of the Gainesville-based chapter.

Mullins said he was awaiting being sent to a shelter set up in a high school in Amsterdam, N.Y., about 40 minutes outside of Albany, New York’s capital.

Steffen was deployed with Charles Pitchford from the Red Cross’ Northwest Georgia chapter. They were sent as part of a large emergency response vehicle headed to Nutter Fort in northern West Virginia, Smith said.

“They are asking (volunteers) to be available for 2-3 weeks,” she said.

Steffen, who has been a Red Cross volunteer since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said he is prepared to help residents out of the emergency response vehicle, meeting basic needs, such as food and water, and dispensing cleanup kits.

Spending Monday night at a fire station in Nutter Fort, he expects to go to meetings today and learn what he’ll do next, but “We will hold our position until it’s safe to go out.”

The area where he is working is “on the edge of the storm” that is expected to batter the Eastern coast, but heavy snow — up to 2 feet — could be in store for some places.

Sandy, which has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” because of its wide berth and expected ferocity, made landfall along the central New Jersey coast at about 8 p.m. Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“In addition to long periods of sustained tropical storm-force winds, the storm will produce historic surge levels along the coast,” the National Weather Service states on its website.

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