TIOGA - Emmett Clark went to Atlantic City, N.J., but it wasn't to have a good time.
Clark spent the last two weeks assisting Superstorm Sandy's victims as a volunteer with the American Red Cross.
He said he spent his days Wildwood and Cape May County doing case work.
"I meet with clients one on one to find out what their individual needs are and refer them to the right place for a more speedy recovery," Clark said.
Though Clark returned home to Tioga County after just two weeks, he said the need will "be going on for a long time."
"From all the people I have talked to this is much larger and worse than Katrina," he said, referring to the huge Category 5 hurricane that devastated the New Orleans, La. area in 2005.
Clark said when he first arrived, there was an outcry for supplies, so he and other volunteers participated in getting supplies to those in need.
"We started at a staff shelter in New Brunswick, broke out into teams, and went to a warehouse where we would break down large bundles and repackage them into smaller bundles they could just grab and go with," he said.
As he spent time driving up and down the shore, Clark said one place in particular stuck in his mind because of all the sand that had been blown in by Sandy.
"I drove out to Manasquan South, and that was pretty devastated from all the sand that had blown in. There were mounds of it, 6-8 feet along the sides of the road where it had been pushed there to clear the road," he said.
It reminded him of snow drifts that the region sees during a heavy snow event in winter here, he said.
Clark said one time the New Jersey lieutenant governor came to look at the staff shelter, and Red Cross CEO Gayle McGovern came "to thank us because we more or less broke a record," in getting supplies to where they were needed.
Volunteers have come from all 50 states, Mexico and Canada to help, he said.
As of Monday, the Red Cross had raised $131 million and had 5,800 workers on site and 90 percent are volunteers.
"There were also 5,700 health and emotional workers, and you can imagine how much they are needed," he said.
On one of his visits to Seaside Heights, close to the shore, where houses are pretty much moved off their foundations and uninhabitable, "people are just emotionally shattered."
Clark said he would ask them to tell him their story and it "helps us understand what their needs are and we can identify resources we have available to move on right away."
One thing people don't understand is that the government organizations are not necessarily going around to find those who need help.
"If you don't come to them they don't know what you need. One misunderstanding is that FBA loans are available to individuals if they qualify as well as businesses," he said.
But the Red Cross tries to get to the people, sending about 1.7 million relief items "out the door to victims."
"We have served 5.6 million meals and snacks already. We have 300 feeding trucks out every day. We have spent $40-50 million in services and expect to spend in excess of $100 million before it is over," he added.
Federal Emergency Management Agency shelters for 140,000 have been established, which the Red Cross manages, until FEMA decides they are no longer needed and then they are closed.
"They are starting to close the shelters as people leave, but because it is the off tourist season along the shore, some of the hotels that are typically closed have opened them up and the people that are left in the shelters are being moved to the motels. Some of them like the Golden Nugget and Blue Palms are going so far out of their way to help the people," he said.
Clark said as of Monday there still were 120,000 homes and businesses without electricity, but some of them will not be restored because there is nothing left.
"There's entire neighborhoods that are totally gone, Seaside Heights was a good example of that," he said.
Other neighborhoods don't look like anything happened there.
"One of the days I drove through a neighborhood that looked like not much happened and we drove another mile down the road and it was total devastation," he said.
People still can donate to the Red Cross by visiting the website or contacting their local chapter. "Donating is by far the best thing they can do. If we have the money we can identify what their immediate needs are and get those things to them," he said.
Go to Redcross.com or call a local chapter to make a donation.