(NECN: Eileen Curran, Dedham, Mass.) - Just hours after the deadly tornado touched down in Joplin, MO, the American Red Cross was on the ground, setting up a shelter and helping the homeless.
"We literally had trucks...driving around handing out water, food and comfort kits because literally these people lost everything." said Nancy Rowe, marketing director for the American Red Cross in Boston.
Comfort kits are packages that contain the basics, like soap, shampoo and razors.
"Just to get them through the first few days after a major disaster to get them on the road to recovery," said Rowe.
And for the children there are diapers, coloring books and a stuffed Mickey Mouse.
"What a little Mickey Mouse can do for a child who's in shock," said Rowe.
Right now, the Red Cross is managing 28 relief operations in 22 states. The Massachusetts chapter has 15 volunteers already in the south helping flood and tornado victims from previous storms. Another local volunteer is scheduled to leave Wednesday morning for Joplin. He'll supervise technology and communications efforts.
"A lot of our volunteers are specially trained in say, mental health or I.T.," said Rowe. " (Because) somebody has to run the computers and cell phones so the relief workers can do their jobs."
The volunteers are trained, not only to help people in a disaster, but also to deal with what they'll encounter at the scene.
"It's emotionally taxing and they need to be ready for that," said Rowe.
The Red Cross is funded entirely through donations. The organization is asking people who want to help to text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or you can donate any amount at RedCross.org.