The American Red Cross continues to reach out in communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy to help residents in need as they confront challenges in the aftermath. While many still need emergency needs met such as food and shelter, others need assistance with health care and emotional support. The Red Cross is providing both simultaneously.
A Safe Place
“Thank God for the Red Cross, without them we wouldn’t know what to do,” said Rachquel Bloomfield, holding back tears.
Bloomfield, a Yonkers, N.Y. native has been staying at a Red Cross shelter with her three children, Airiel, age 17, Kenneth, age 12, and Gabrielle, age 5, along with her mother, Lorna Bailey. Sandy drove them from their residence.
“We were so scared, with the rain and trees hitting the windows,” said Bloomfield. Later that evening a fire started, triggered by sparking electrical outlets, and fire officials forced the family to evacuate. They were sent to the Red Cross shelter at the Police Athletic League building on North Broadway Street.
“They have been so good to us. The food has been good and everyone is very courteous,” said Bloomfield. She added that she had run out of her medications and Red Cross personnel had been sent to neighboring Mt. Vernon to pick up her prescriptions.
On one occasion the family returned to their residence to see if anything could be salvaged from the fire.
Little Gabrielle begged her mother, “Let’s go back.”
“This is the safest place that we can be,” said Bloomfield.
Care and Counseling
In Coney Island, Zamia Garcia sat as Red Cross volunteer John Griffiths, an EMT from Rochester, N.Y., checked her blood pressure.
Garcia had visited the Coney Island distribution site to pick up supplies and food from the Red Cross and other relief agencies assisting individuals and families. There, the Red Cross had a table where registered nurses, EMTs and mental health counselors were available to assist people. Health care workers also walked around talking to people waiting in line to see if they had any issues needing immediate attention.
Garcia stopped and asked if they could check on her blood pressure. Griffiths led Garcia to a chair where he applied the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope to her arm to check her blood pressure. He told her the blood pressure reading which Garcia was relieved to know.
Myrna Sullivan, a registered nurse who came from St. Louis as a Red Cross volunteer, provided nutritional counseling and assurances regarding Garcia’s diet. Sullivan said the main concerns health care workers have seen include blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, all conditions often made worse by a great amount of stress such as what thousands of New Yorkers have endured since Sandy.
In some cases, people couldn't refill needed prescriptions because their pharmacies were damaged or destroyed by the storm. In those cases, the Red Cross works with the people to connect with another pharmacy.
The Red Cross has been helping people since before Sandy made landfall and will continue to help for weeks to come as families get back on their feet. The response is likely to be the biggest Red Cross response in the U.S. in the past five years. Visit www.redcross.org to learn how you can help support these efforts.