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Sandy Brings One Family Back to a Familiar Place

Hurricane Sandy
The Red Cross has always been so great to us, and we feel very safe here.

Since Sunday, Zarella Reiter and her family of 11 have been staying at an American Red Cross shelter at Nassau Community College on Long Island, N.Y. To this family, evacuating to a shelter came all too easy, as they went through the same process one year ago during Hurricane Irene. In fact, they came to the exact same shelter last year and got to know the same Red Cross volunteers managing the shelter.

But one thing was different this time—this storm was much larger and much more dangerous. As soon as local officials issued an evacuation order, Reiter and her family made the decision as a family to leave right away. One thing was certain—they weren’t taking any chances. 

Reiter’s family came to the shelter prepared. They brought enough supplies for the family to last several days, including food, drinks, personal hygiene items, supplies, baby supplies and toys. The family knew to take the advice of the Red Cross and bring supplies to last for several days. 

Once they got to the shelter, they began to recognize Red Cross workers from the previous year, making for a reunion of sorts. Reiter gave hugs to workers and thanked them for being there again for her family. 

“The Red Cross has always been so great to us, and we feel very safe here,” said Reiter. 

Everyone in the family has been staying positive, playing games and enjoying the community of the shelter. But they all fear what millions across the country feared: the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

On Tuesday, some of the family members returned to their neighborhood in Island Park on Long Island to find their homes destroyed, their streets flooded and their community devastated. 

“Everything is gone,” said Reiter. “Everything that we worked so hard to build was wiped out in one night.” 

The Red Cross is helping thousands of people that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. On Tuesday night, more than 9,000 people stayed at 171 Red Cross shelters, and the Red Cross has served more than 100,000 meals and snacks so far. The Red Cross is providing food, shelter and emotional support in these first difficult days, and will be there to help as families begin to return home.


The response to Sandy is a large, costly relief operation. To donate, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected.

Hundreds of Red Cross blood drives have also been cancelled due to the storm, so please consider donating blood. To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.