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The damage left behind after 81 tornadoes tore through the Midwest is painfully obvious.

But trying to figure out the best way you can help may not be as clear.

Megan Koeth with Cleveland Red Cross has been busy all morning fielding phone calls.

"It's something about Midwesterners and our culture that we want to help people out," says Koeth.

And right now, the Red Cross and other charities are simply asking for money.

That enables these tornado victims to take control of their own recovery.

"They can buy what they need in the time they want, and it also helps get money into the economy," says Koeth.

But before you write a check, you'll want to make sure that your money is being spent wisely and is going to a legitimate charity.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, Charity Watch advises you to make sure that 75 cents of every dollar you donate goes to direct aid.

The Red Cross, at 91 percent, is well above that mark.

In the meantime, several charities -- from the Salvation Army to the Red Cross -- are already asking for donations and volunteers.

And we know that in this time of need you will answer.

"Northeast Ohioans are very generous," says Koeth.

At this point in time, the Red Cross has made sure their emergency response vehicle is all gassed up, but they have not yet been called out to those hard-hit areas.

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