TAMPA, Fla - Maggie Caruso left her Pass-A-Grille home Friday night and is driving to New York City. Her car is packed with baby clothes, diapers, food, water and even tangerines. Everything she collected will be given out to Sandy victims.
"They need muscle up there," said Caruso during a Skype interview with ABC Action News.
Caruso's elderly father lives in the disaster area. He is disabled, suffers from advanced Parkinson's Disease and is still without electricity.
Superstorm Sandy knocked out power for millions in the northeast. Just as some of it was restored, the Nor'easter plunged the area back into darkness.
"I wanted to check on him but I did not want to go up empty handed," Caruso explained.
Caruso put a call out for donations on her Facebook page last week. With two drop off sites, dozens of people came forward and gave what they could. Caruso was able to fill up her entire van with the donations.
She plans to give them out right when she gets there. Her other goal is to bring attention to smaller cities in the disaster area that are not getting media attention unlike Staten Island and Seaside Heights.
St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue and the Local 747 are doing as Caruso is, just on a bigger scale.
"We've got all kinds of food, clothing, baby stuff, adult stuff, everything...plenty of water," said Chris Spafford, a firefighter and New Jersey native.
Spafford said watching media reports and seeing all that has been destroyed is unbelievable.
"It breaks my heart because it's where I grew up. You're seeing stuff from your childhood just completely demolished," Spafford added.
Spafford said his immediate family is OK but a lot of his friends that he keeps up with on Facebook have lost their homes.
"This has really helped me feel like I'm helping out my community up there," he said.
Spafford and other firefighters loaded a 24' box truck with all the supplies. So many people in the community donated they had to start loading up a small trailer.
Firefighters are now looking for any other volunteers driving to the northeast who would be willing to hitch the trailer to their car.
As for the packed up box truck, Spafford took off around 5 p.m. Friday for New Jersey.
If you are headed to the disaster area and can help bring up the trailer of donated goods, please contact Lt. Granada at 727.831.1370.
Caruso and Spafford are not the first Bay area residents to lend a helping hand. Friday morning, a dozen emergency managers flew to New York City. They will spend the next 12 days there helping relieve volunteers.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Consumer Energy Solutions of Cleawater is partnering with Roadies that Care and retired Marines in the Bay area to collect donations for Sandy victims.
A trailer will be parked at 1255 Cleveland Street in Clearwater and volunteers will be accepting donations Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The trailer full of supplies will leave for New Jersey Monday.
Items needed in some of the hardest hit areas of New Jersey include: cleaning supplies, bleach, contractor garbage bags, work gloves, tools, hats, warm gloves, packaged underwear, socks, baby food (no glass), baby formula, school supplies, children's books, plastic baby bottles, diapers, salt for roads, hygiene products, female hygiene products, non-perishable food, can openers, coffee, sugar, bowls with lids, paper plates, breakfast foods, mashed potato mix, pet food (especially wet food for cats), cat litter, raincoats and rain boots.
Needs for the Bay Head National Guard include: surge protectors, 3 volt lithium batteries, D batteries, hand/toe warmers, new crew socks, new boxer briefs, hand sanitizer, foot powder, Power Bars, energy drinks, Gatorade, tarps, Rubbermaid bins, packing tape, Sharpies, razors, OTC medications like Tylenol and cold remedies.
EMTs across the area are asking for the following: batteries, cleaning supplies, air mattresses, 4x4 rolled gauze, sterile water, saline, latex gloves, Band-Aids, hospital grade disinfectant wipes, alcohol prep pads, tongue depressors, glucose tubes, comp pads, occlusive dressings, ice packs, heat packs, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, nasal canulas, non-rebreather masks for adults and children, sheets for stretchers, blankets for stretchers, hospital blankets, pillows for stretchers, oxygen tanks, splints of various sizes, cravats, pulse oxometer, backboards, defibrillators, suction machine, tape, scissors, infant seats, nasal airways of all sizes along with lubricant, OPA's, valve bag masks in all sizes, spider straps or quick clips, head blocks, immobilizing straps and neck collars.
Questions about this Clearwater collection can be answered by calling 727.724.5811 or Lynn Posyton at 727.804.1874.
The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers to the region from all over the country to help those affected by the storm. As many as 160 emergency vehicles are ready to respond when it is safe to do so, and more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals have
been sent into the area.
To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767.)"