After Superstorm Sandy’s flood waters tore through the Battista family home in Woodbridge, New Jersey – destroying the furnace, electrical panel, wiring, ductwork, pipes and foundation – the home was declared unsafe and unlivable. The family of four moved into a borrowed camping trailer on their front lawn while they figured out what to do next.
Last summer, the family met with American Red Cross case worker David Huang. Through FEMA funds, insurance settlement and money borrowed from family, the Battistas had managed to make the essential repairs for their home to become habitable; however, it was nowhere near restored and the family was financially and mentally exhausted.
“When we met David, it made a huge difference for us psychologically,” said Cheryl Battista. “We had that feeling that we knew we’d be okay from here because he wasn’t going to give up, so neither could we.”
David helped the family create a recovery plan and worked with them to accomplish their goals. This included evaluating their option to accept a government buyout for their property or to find other assistance from available resources.
“The recovery process is not only a very emotional process, but it’s a time-consuming and complicated one,” said David. “By creating a partnership plan, disaster case workers can navigate survivors through the process, letting them take control of their own recovery.”
The Red Cross provided financial assistance to repair duct work, enabling the family to heat their home during the coming winter. David also advocated on the family’s behalf to other non-profits, including Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and the Middlesex County Long Term Recovery Group – a community roundtable set up with Red Cross funds to provide financial assistance to local residents affected by Sandy.
As a result of David’s efforts, the family received the assistance necessary to cover the remaining work to get their home back to where it had been prior to the storm. Eighteen months later, the road to recovery for the Barrista family is just about over.
The collaborative efforts of organizations have been instrumental in assisting families trying to recover from the devastating and widespread effects of Sandy. The Red Cross is proud to work with its community partners to provide assistance to Sandy-affected families. Red Cross case workers, like David, continue to be dedicated to helping families return to their homes.
“We are so thankful to the Red Cross and to David. He is our saving grace and we could never have come this far without him,” said Cheryl.
The Red Cross continues to help people across the Northeast recover and rebuild from Sandy in a number of ways, including providing financial assistance for housing-related expenses and grants to nonprofit groups serving residents of affected communities.
Superstorm Sandy is the largest U.S. operation by the Red Cross in more than five years, and thanks to the public’s generous support, the Red Cross has received $311 million in donations for Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts. As of February 28th, the Red Cross has spent or committed $291 million – nearly 93 percent of the donated funds.