The millions of meals, snacks and relief items distributed by the American Red Cross following Superstorm Sandy might seem like a massive undertaking in itself. Today, two years after Sandy’s landfall, the ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts show just how much can be accomplished for those affected by the storm. Supporting individual families and forging local partnerships were primary ingredients to help communities and families get back on their feet.
To accomplish this in just two years, the Red Cross has spent or committed more than 99 percent of the $311.5 million received in donations for Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts.
FAMILY BY FAMILY For families like Donna Fisher and her son, recovery often translates into finding both emotional and financial support. After leaving their Mystic Island home the day Superstorm Sandy hit with one trash bag and a laundry bag full of clothes, Fisher returned to discover a condemned house. Without a plan for shelter following the storm, Fisher connected with Red Cross disaster worker Meredith Winick for help.
“Meredith checks up on me, sees how I’m doing. She’s helped me mentally,” said Fisher.
Winick presented Fisher’s case to a committee to help secure a rental home, and now through a grant and the Red Cross Gap Funding Initiative, Fisher and her son are on track to celebrate Christmas back in their home this year.
Disaster workers were also a lifeline for Rose and Angelo Bertani of Toms River, a couple in their 80s who evacuated ahead of Superstorm Sandy with only the clothes on their backs. A ruined home, a dishonest contractor, a surgery and a broken leg plagued the two years of recovery following the storm.
“The Red Cross called me and said do you need anything, and I said we need everything,” said Rose Bertani, who described the Red Cross as the “last hope” for her and her husband as they were in the hospital healing.
The Bertani’s are now back in their house, “all thanks to the Red Cross,” said Rose Bertani. “My caseworker fought to get us in our house. She was wonderful to us.”
PARTNERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT The Red Cross response is greater than just one organization, and Superstorm Sandy was no exception. From rebuilding homes to supporting families in need, the Red Cross helped orchestrate Sandy recovery by working directly with groups in the community.
“Without the commitment and support of the Red Cross, we would not have been able to rebuild one home,” said Michael Sinensky, founder, Friends of Rockaway. “With their help, via grants and resources, we're up to 60 homes rebuilt and counting. Had the Red Cross not stepped in and kick-started our group of volunteers, our organization would have raised the white flag a long time ago. With over 100 more homes to go, the Red Cross behind us and we are extremely motivated to complete our goal of rebuilding for those still in need of support post-Sandy. Thank you for fueling the drive we need to keep going.”
From neighborhood organizations to large-scale partners, the Red Cross has worked in close coordination with many groups to continue addressing housing and other unmet needs in Sandy’s wake.
“As New York City marks the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, it must be noted that the American Red Cross in Greater New York has been the primary source of charitable recovery support to tens of thousands of survivors – as well as the non-profit human services sector,” said Peter Gudaitis, chief response officer, New York Disaster Interfaith Services.
“Through community partnerships, NYDIS was able to amplify over $5 million in Red Cross grant funding into $12 million for distribution through the NYC Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtables in each borough – directly facilitating the sustainable recovery of 1,700 of vulnerable survivor families – we hope to reach 3,000 over the next year.”
THANKS TO YOU The Red Cross response to Superstorm Sandy would not be possible without our generous donors and volunteers.
“Thank you to each and every one of you who donated money or raised your hand to join in serving those in need during the long weeks that followed landfall and to the thousands more who have served in our ongoing recovery efforts,” said Trevor Riggen, vice president of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics at the Red Cross.
As relief and recovery work continues, the Red Cross is dedicating the remaining funds to provide affected families with financial assistance, housing repairs and mental health services, through both direct Red Cross support and grants to partners helping Sandy survivors.