American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio disaster volunteers Millie Rollins, Gary Betway, and Kathy Nershi traveling to New Jersey this week to assist people affected by Superstorm Sandy. These volunteers will assess client needs, connect them with available resources, and answer any questions they may have.
More than 10 weeks after Superstorm Sandy, the American Red Cross continues to help with food, emotional support, and longer-term assistance. Nearly 1,000 Red Cross workers are on the ground operating fixed feeding sites and providing some mobile feeding in New York where there is still a need. For example, on an average day, the Red Cross still has been distributing approximately 33,000 meals and snacks in New York. Red Cross is also supporting several community food banks in New York to help provide an additional 60,000 meals a day to people in the hardest hit areas.
“I was born in Brooklyn and lived in New Jersey for a long time,” says Sylvania Township resident Rollins, “I’m familiar with the area and the homes and other things that were lost there. I feel the need to go and get these families back on their feet.”
“These folks need to get on with their lives,” says Betway, “They need experienced volunteers to provide this bridge in assistance so they can continue with their recovery.” Betway is a Monroe, Michigan resident and has been deployed nearly 40 times for service to disaster areas throughout the world. He was deployed over 100 days last year alone.
“I want to pay it forward,” says Perrysburg resident Nershi, “I am lucky to be able to volunteer and love spending my time helping others.” Nershi is a member of the American Red Cross in Wood County Disaster Action Team. In addition to her support of Red Cross efforts, she also volunteers for the Humane Society, Wood County Committee on Aging, and Lutheran Church of the Messenger. This is Nershi’s second deployment to assist with Sandy efforts.
For the next several months, a big part of Red Cross recovery efforts will be working one-on-one with people who need some extra help. This assistance could include a number of things, such as assistance with home repairs, rent, security deposits, utility deposits, connecting people with social service programs, helping them fill out paperwork for assistance or insurance claims, getting them counseling, identifying child care resources, helping them find new housing, or providing a connection to legal assistance if they are dealing with a landlord or contractor.
Recovery can seem overwhelming to those who have been impacted by a disaster, and experienced Red Cross workers can help survivors get in touch with the people and programs vital to their individual recovery. While some have the ability to leave hotels and move into permanent housing, others may still be waiting to find contractors for home repairs or may not be able to find housing close to their employer or child care facility. While the storm and immediate devastation has passed, Red Cross work may continue for months.