After Hurricane Sandy left their home in ruins, the American Red Cross is helping a New Jersey couple complete repairs so they can schedule their homecoming.
Six months ago when the hurricane hit New Jersey, Beville Harris stepped out of her bed to find two feet of lagoon water and scum in the home she shared with her husband, Harold. They built the home themselves more than 50 years ago on Silver Lagoon Drive in the Toms River community. Since it had never flooded there before, they did not anticipate the nightmare that was to come when the hurricane hit.
“We did not know what to do or where to go,” Beville said. “The mold came overnight. We cut up carpet. Neighbors came to help. Churches came to help. We lost all our clothes, our appliances and furniture. We needed help.”
The couple moved in with their daughter in New York for two months until they received a FEMA trailer in Whiting, N.J. FEMA also helped them have the mold professionally removed from their home. Despite the assistance they received, they still needed help financing furnishings and kitchen repairs.
Finally, Beville contacted Red Cross client case worker Ellen Korpar. “Beville sounded so distraught,” Korpar said. “I heard her desperation and knew the resources that [the] Red Cross could offer would enable the couple to get back into their beloved home again.”
Korpar quickly set up a visit to the couple’s home, which was just a frame and wall studs at the time, and arranged for the Red Cross to help them with kitchen repairs.
“When Ellen got involved, everything began to pop. We are now on our way back to living in our home,” Beville said.
The Harrises are just one of 9,000 families identified by FEMA and other government partners whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed and in which the Red Cross has been asked to assist with longer-term housing or home repairs.
After six months of supporting people before, during and after the hurricane, the Red Cross has released its Six-Month Update on how it is using the precious donations that came in to support Sandy relief and recovery.
Approximately $302 million was donated to the Red Cross as of April 18 to help those affected by Sandy, and the Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend about $192 million, which is nearly two-thirds of the contributions to date.
”We want to spend the money people donated for Sandy quickly, but more importantly, we want to spend it wisely,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “It’s important to make sure some money is available for needs no one can predict right now. However long it takes, we are committed that money donated for Sandy will be used to help individuals and communities affected by this storm.”