When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the eastern seaboard of the United States, the results were catastrophic. The American Red Cross responded and is still on the ground today helping those affected.
The area impacted by Sandy was large and the amount of assistance needed massive. The Red Cross deployed more than 15,600 trained disaster workers who served millions of meals and snacks, distributed millions of relief items, provided more than 81,000 overnight shelter stays and almost 100,000 health services and emotional support contacts.
The Red Cross in countries to the north and south also helped with the response to Sandy. The Canadian and Mexican Red Cross organizations both deployed disaster responders to assist people impacted by the Superstorm, and on December 13th the Canadian Red Cross presented a $1.6 million check to the American Red Cross to help with relief and recovery efforts.
Caroline Belina came from Montreal, Canada and worked at a Red Cross distribution site in the Rockaways in Queens, New York. She joined her local chapter of the Canadian Red Cross which arranged for her to deploy to help with the Sandy effort. “I like the work and meeting such wonderful, sympathetic volunteers,” she said. “We all connect to support one cause.”
The Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) sent two teams of responders to join the Sandy relief effort. The first were on the scene in White Plains, N.Y. just four days after the storm made landfall. Issac Oxenhaut, director of disaster services for the Mexican Red Cross, then deployed additional workers at the request of the American Red Cross.
“We are good friends with the American Red Cross,” Oxenhaut said. “To us, there is only one Red Cross in the world and we all are part of it.” He has been with the Red Cross for 40 years and involved in hundreds of disasters responses, including the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake.
It’s not the first time the Mexican Red Cross has helped its North American neighbor. Oxenhaut said many of those who came with him to New York had just returned home from assisting Louisiana recover from the destruction of Hurricane Isaac – the category one storm that brought intense rain and serious flooding in coastal and inland areas in late August. And when the United States needed support for Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, they also came.
Pat Hamel, disaster health services manager, welcomed the group of dedicated volunteers.
“In a region with a large Hispanic community, we really needed their translating abilities,” she said. “This group jumped in where they saw additional need. You couldn’t ask for better support.” The Cruz Roja Mexicana team brought valuable technical skills and disaster response experience to the Sandy response.