By Marissa Parra
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When Steve Wise gets a call from the Red Cross, he answers.

“I’m currently at Midway Airport ready to launch to Mayfield, Kentucky,” he told Parra over Zoom.

He is their first to trek from Chicago, 400 miles south to Mayfield. The number of volunteers from Red Cross Illinois being sent to Kentucky currently sits at a handful, but that number is expected to grow.

“We all knew Friday the storm was going to be in bad shape and we were doing a lot to prepare regionally,” the Red Cross director said.

That storm system produced a series of tornadoes, including one that would kill at least six at an Amazon plant in Edwardsville, Illinois. And that monster tornado crossed states before striking Mayfield by cover of darkness. All that was left of some homes were concrete slabs.

“We have a saying at the Red Cross, which is, ‘If you’ve seen one disaster, you’ve seen one disaster because they’re all so different,” said Holly Baker with the Red Cross of Illinois. “I’m actually headed there tomorrow, so I’ll be joining as well.”

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The St Louis, Missouri, Red Cross is responding to the Edwardsville Amazon plant but Red Cross of Illinois says if at any point they are tapped for help they will send volunteers that way.

Red Cross volunteers like Wise and staff like Holly Baker are no strangers to natural disasters. Wise has helped with recovery from Hurrican Michael in 2018 and Hurricane Harvey a year before that.

This time in Kentucky he will lead what’s called Mass Care.

“Basically I’m overseeing and feeding related efforts to people affected by this terrible event,” he said.

“The thing that helps you is when you go off and see people with tears in their eyes and they’ve gone through a lot. We give them hope,” he said.

With all of this happening right before the holidays, many have asked how to help. Red Cross teamed up with our CBS affiliate WLKY to set up a fundraiser. Money donated will aid victims and local recovery. You can donate time or money, but they are also asking for blood donations. There was already a shortage, and now with blood drives across the Midwest cancelled, donations are another way to help.

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There will also be a supply drive starting Monday at EC Dry Cleaning at 5312 South Pulaski Rd. They are looking for water, baby formula, non-perishable food items, clothes, coats and blankets.