HELPING HANDS: Iowans Assist Hurricane Sandy Victims

Sandy has forced airlines to cancel flights from Des Moines to the east coast, but a number of volunteers have found a way to get there so they can help.

Iowa is no stranger to natural disasters that have created the need for help from volunteers throughout the nation.

So in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Iowans are returning the favor.

On Saturday, 15 MidAmerican Energy workers and 8 local volunteers from the American Red Cross were sent out east.

Due to the extensive damage, both are doubling their efforts.

“We’re sending some people out there because it’s the right thing to do and we want to be able to provide assistance and support,” said Tina Potthoff, the media relations manager for MidAmerican Energy.

MidAmerican Energy has sent line workers and safety experts to assist in getting power turned back on.

“We’ve heard today that as many as 8,000,000 people could be without power and it will take time to complete those restoration efforts.”

While Iowa’s American Red Cross volunteers will help feed and assist more than 11,000 people staying in shelters.

“To see somebody’s look in their eye when they just tell you thank you for being there,” said Tammie Pech, a volunteer with the American Red Cross.

The effects of Sandy are also being felt back home.

At Des Moines International Airport, direct flights to Newark and Washington D.C. have both been canceled since Monday.

If you’re planning to connect to other east coast destinations, executive director Donald Smithey offers this advice.

“Contact your airline where ever you’re booked. Double check with them to make sure the flight is operating on schedule.”

The American Red Cross says it has additional volunteers on stand-by, but they won’t be sent out until the total damage estimates are in.

Flights to Newark and Washington D.C. will resume tomorrow.