As New Yorkers cope with the effects of Sandy 100 days after landfall, the American Red Cross continues its work across impacted communities, with an expanded emphasis on helping partner organizations serving survivors.
"As we mark 100 days since Sandy’s landfall, the Red Cross is on the job with ongoing needed relief such as food and other help – and we’re working with people to help in the recovery. Now is the time for people across our area to join forces and continue to support those still in need of our help," said Josh Lockwood, regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater New York.
More than 700 Red Cross workers—mainly volunteers—remain on the ground.
“Red Cross volunteers bring such positive energy into the community,” said Pastor Connie Hulla, of the Coney Island Gospel Assembly. “It infuses the community; it lifts people up.”
Located on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, Hulla’s church is one of many grass-roots relief sites that sprang up after the storm. The Red Cross has supported it with warm meals each day. Even three months after the storm, Red Cross emergency response vehicles can be seen delivering relief.
“Seeing that Red Cross truck sends a message of hope to the community; it tells us that we are not abandoned,” said Hulla.
Nearly 40,000 meals are delivered each day by the Red Cross through vehicles, fixed sites, and funded partnerships with several community food providers including City Harvest, Food Bank for NYC, and Island Harvest.
Beyond the continued need for food, many New Yorkers are still displaced. The Red Cross is working closely with government partners on long-term recovery efforts, and the first part of the Red Cross recovery work is already underway. At the request of the federal government, the Red Cross is focusing its initial recovery assistance on an estimated 9,000 families whose houses were heavily damaged or destroyed. The Red Cross is providing resources to either repair their homes or help them move into longer-term housing.
An additional problem for many is the threat of mold in homes that were flooded. Last week, the Red Cross joined with Mayor Bloomberg and the Robin Hood Foundation to announce a $15 million partnership to launch a remediation program to remove mold in approximately 2,000 homes in the hardest hit areas of the city.
For the next several months, a big part of the Red Cross recovery effort will be working one-on-one with families who need some extra help making recovery plans and accessing available resources. Some need help finding child care, or understanding insurance paperwork. Red Cross case workers will help guide them through the recovery process.
“The work is underway, but it’s important to remember that this type of work takes time,” said Lockwood. “Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Red Cross recovery work for Hurricane Katrina lasted five years. The Red Cross is still helping families in Joplin, Missouri, following the tornado that destroyed the town in 2011.
So far, the Red Cross has spent about $145 million—more than half of what has been raised—for the response to Sandy. In its recently-released Three-Month Update, the Red Cross outlined the response, how funds have been used and next steps. The report is posted online at redcross.org.
Since Sandy hit, the Red Cross has (as of Feb. 5):
• Served more than 12 million meals and snacks—more than 7.5 million in New York.
• Distributed more than 6.9 million relief items like blankets and cleaning supplies.
• Provided more than 110,000 health and mental health contacts for those affected, many of whom lost everything they owned during the storm.
• Provided nearly half (81,000) of the total 163,000 shelter stays by a range of groups.
"In the weeks and months after the storm came ashore, the Red Cross has been a vital partner in supporting the ongoing relief effort," said State Sen. Andrew Lanza, who represents hard-hit communities on Staten Island. "Their tireless dedication to the needs of Staten Island is greatly appreciated. It has been a privilege to work with the Red Cross as we continue to help people get back on their feet.”
However long it takes, the Red Cross is committed to using the monies donated for Sandy to help those affected. More information on the Red Cross and its Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts can be found at www.redcross.org/sandy-response.