How to help Mass. tornado victims

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay is accepting donations of any size from people who want to help the residents of those communities hammered by the tornadoes in Central and Western Massachusetts on Wednesday. People can donate online at http://redcross.org or by phone: 1-800-RED-CROSS. Those who wish to donate can also text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to send $10 to the organization. The charge will appears on the user’s celphone bill. The Red Cross is not accepting in-kind donations or new volunteers, said Nancy Rowe, a Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay spokesman. Those who wish to help in person in the future can contact their local Red Cross office to receive training for any upcoming disasters. “This was a big one,” Rowe said. “We’re everywhere we need to be, but we’re stretched thin.”

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More than 130 Red Cross volunteers, more than 50 of whom have just returned from Joplin, Mo., and the floods in Montana, are in 19 communities near Springfield and Monson. Rowe said they were shocked to see similarities to those disasters in their own state. “They’re doing the same work here in their own backyards,” Rowe said. “Never in a million years would we have imagined that.” The Red Cross and local utility companies have warned against touching downed wires, power lines and storm debris. Shelters set up by the Red Cross in Springfield are providing hot meals and a place to sleep for those without homes or power, Rowe said.

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