CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 3,000 Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in the Carolinas and many of them are from the Chicago area.

As Hurricane Florence took aim at the Carolina coast, 39 Red Cross staff members and volunteers said goodbye to their loved ones and headed to the hardest hit areas.

“We don’t do this because it’s easy. We all recognize that there is a need here,” said Brian Neslter, a Red Cross volunteer from Roselle.

He and Ira Meinhofer from Chicago are part of the Red Cross Disaster Response Team. Ira also volunteered two years ago during Hurricane Matthew.

“The damage here is ten times worse than Matthew. There are homes that are underwater where you could just barely see the tops of roofs,” Meinhofer said.

Steve Wise from Lemont is helping run one of the more than 90 Red Cross Community Shelters providing beds, warm meals, and even some smiles to some of the youngest Hurricane Survivors.

“We’re responding on the worst days of people’s lives. Basically they’ve had their lives turned upside down and they don’t know what they’re going to go home and go back to,” Wise said.

Terry Nosal from Lemont loaded up a boat full of water and food to get to people stranded in their homes.

Geoff Fishwick from Wheaton helped work at a water distribution site.

“Food is a big concern. People are displaced. There are people trying to get home not knowing really where they are,” said Fishwick.

Despite the challenges, they all know the payoff for them is far more rewarding.

To help support the victims of Hurricane Florence, donate to the Red Cross by calling 855-350-2900.