Residents of the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio seem to have dodged a bullet: Hurricane Sandy and weather systems that combined with it have spared our area much of the destruction and sometimes death that have afflicted a wide swath of the eastern United States.
In our area, relatively gentle though lingering rain has not caused much flooding. Wind speeds have not been high enough to bring down as many power lines as had been feared.
Of course, local residents affected by scattered power outages and perhaps minor flooding still are in need. No doubt the good neighbors of the Ohio Valley will provide it.
Elsewhere, things are different. Some coastal communities have been hit hard. It will take days for New York City to put itself back together. There isn't much, if anything, local residents can do to help.
But there is a critical need Northern Panhandle and East Ohio residents can fill: blood.
The American Red Cross relies on donation drives held throughout the nation on a regular basis to replenish supplies of blood used to treat victims of accidents and illnesses. Because of Hurricane Sandy, scores of blood drives in states affected by the storm had to be postponed or canceled.
That means it is even more important than normal that people in areas not hit hard by the storm go to Red Cross events and donate blood.
We know of two blood drives scheduled for this area. One ends at 6 p.m. today at the First Presbyterian Church, 110 South Marietta St., St. Clairsville. Another is planned for noon to 6 p.m. Friday at St. Michael's Catholic Church, 1221 National Road, Wheeling. It is possible that, because of the disaster, the Red Cross will schedule other collections in our area.
As we have stressed many times in the past, donating blood is giving the gift of life. For those injured badly or suffering from certain illnesses, there is no substitute for it. Without blood donated by the good residents of our area and other Americans, some people will die.
Most of us in this area have been lucky in dealing with what some have called the storm of a lifetime. Millions of our neighbors in other states have not been so fortunate. If possible, then, we urge that you consider a donation of one of the most important disaster relief "supplies" there is: blood.