Anytime there is a natural disaster the American Red Cross and its volunteers are the first to step up to help. They work with communities and government officials to provide, shelter, food, emotional support and medical assistance when needed. With Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on our East Coast, everyone is already asking what they can do to help.

Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia are already under states of emergencies. The American Red Cross has laid out some of the best ways for you to provide assistance for those in need on the East Coast.

LOCAL EFFORTS: Locally, the American Red Cross North Texas Region has sent eight relief workers. Additional workers will remain on stand-by to travel to the impact zones after the storm, if needed. Two Abilene Volunteers, Kathy Cheatham and Harry Dhans are on stand-by to deploy after the storm.

RED CROSS APP: Residents who live in the North Texas area, but have friends or family in the path of Hurricane Sandy, can download the free Red Cross Hurricane App to track the storm. The Hurricane App provides real-time hurricane safety information such as weather alerts and where Red Cross shelters are located. The app also features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm, and the one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media sites to tell family and friends they are okay. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

HOW TO HELP: To help people affected by disasters like this, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD: The Red Cross is moving shipments of blood products to hospitals along the coast in advance of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather. Sandy could affect the turn-out at Red Cross blood drives. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.

To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.