MidMichigan steps up to help devastated areas

Update: May 24th, 11:05 a.m.

NBC25's Sister Station, KRCG in Missouri, is partnering with the Red Cross, and is hosting a telethon Tuesday to raise money for victims. The phone number to donate is 573-644-6440. You can learn more about KRCG's efforts to help victims, by clicking here.

Update: May 24th, 10:30 a.m.

The death toll in Joplin, Mo. has reached 116, and is expected to climb. If Mid-Michigan residents would like to donate to the rescue efforts, they can either contact their local Red Cross, or donate to the Ozarks Red Cross in Missouri by clicking here.

While rescue and relief teams converge on Joplin, Missouri, following the recent tornado, MidMichigan volunteers return home from serving southern states devastated by flooding.

NBC News is reporting more than 100 people have been killed in Missouri after a tornado ripped through the community of Joplin.

The half-mile wide twister cut a six mile path of destruction.

This, as MidMichigan relief teams return home this week from helping previous disasters, like flooding in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama.

"The devastation is pretty terrific. We're seeing entire communities devastated by what's happened, and that's a rarity. Most people don't normally see entire towns devastated the way that they have," says Ryan Manz, director of disaster and military services at the East Shoreline Chapter of the American Red Cross in Bay City.

At least with flooding, there's some lead time, but with tornadoes, there's rarely any warning and the destruction is quick.

Recently, seven volunteers returned to the East Shoreline Chapter of the American Red Cross in Bay City, another one returns Wednesday.

Officials say those volunteering from MidMichigan come from every background and way of life.

"Everywhere from people who worked in a factory, doctors, nurses, lawyers, carpenters, everything," says Manz.

The Red Cross says it has spent around $31-million using nearly 8,000 volunteers since late March serving in 25-disasters in 20-states.

Officials say it's not for glory, but because they care.

"They don't see themselves as heros, and that's what's so touching. They've taken three weeks out of their lives to help people they've never met before," says Mantz.

Some local private businesses have collected donations and supplies and drove them down from MidMichigan to Alabama to help out.

Officials say volunteers are normally emotionally affected by what they see and often need support themselves to transition back to normal life when they get back.

The Red Cross expects this year to be particularly expensive taking into account the wildfires in Texas that started in late March, through the flooding, and now a tornado, not to mention hurricane season starting next month.