Palmetto SC Region Volunteers Reflect on Hurricane Sandy Response

Palmetto SC Region Volunteers Reflect on Hurricane Sandy Response
I remember the gratitude – the way a smile, a hug, and a southern accent could change their outlook, even if just for a moment

When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeast just before Halloween of 2012, a group of Red Cross volunteers from the Palmetto SC Region stood ready to answer the call to respond. That call came quickly.

In its wake Sandy left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, along with 8.5 million without power across 11 states. It was a massive recovery effort, and the Red Cross mounted its biggest disaster response in years, providing food, shelter and comfort immediately after the storm and helping thousands of families recover and rebuild. Sandy’s powerful storm surges, high winds and punishing rains left a swath of destruction. In total 146 lives were lost; an estimated 651,000 home in New York and New Jersey were damaged or destroyed as were nearly 300,000 businesses.

The Red Cross mobilized to aid victims of this historic storm. Opening hundreds of shelters, serving nourishing meals and snacks, and distributing millions of relief items, some 17,000 Red Cross workers (90 percent volunteers) offered comfort to those affected.

Myrtle Beach’s Debi Kostic, Red Cross volunteer for the past 11 years, was one of the 95 South Carolinians who traveled northward to support the recovery efforts. She deployed twice in the aftermath of the storm. First in November 2012 to New York and another three weeks in January 2013 to New Jersey where she served as DAT coordinator, client case work manager, and staff services supervisor.

“We touched a lot of lives,” Kostic said.

Red Cross volunteer from Columbia, Susie Bender, spent three weeks of her holiday season in New York with what she calls her, “Red Cross family.”

Bender said they fed more than 1,800 meals and distributed 41 blankets in just one day from just one ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) stationed on Rockaway Beach.

“The very sight of Rockaway and Breezy Point would bring you to your knees – I’ve not seen such destruction, even in the places I’ve ventured in international missions,” said Bender.

Their efforts were appreciated and left a lasting mark on all of the South Carolina volunteers who responded.

“I remember the gratitude – the way a smile, a hug, and a southern accent could change their outlook, even if just for a moment,” said Bender.

On the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the American Red Cross continues to address long-term needs, working with government and nonprofit partners to assist those requiring help on the path to recovery. The Red Cross provided direct case management to more than 9,000 storm victims and has shared significant portions of the more than $300 million raised with other nonprofits skilled in long-term recovery, including home building.

Thanks to the generous response of hundreds of thousands of supporters like you the American Red Cross. To date, more than 90 percent of the funds raised have been spent or committed.

View more on the American Red Cross One-Year Superstorm Sandy Relief and Recovery.