Ariyana Paul is a vibrant five-year-old with a captivating personality and a smile that can light up any room in an instant. She welcomes the woman from the American Red Cross with excitement and a desire to make her feel at home in the family’s new apartment.
“Would you like something to drink, maybe some iced tea?” Ariyana asks. “How about a hot dog? My grandpa has a whole bunch in the refrigerator.”
Ariyana is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air whose roll-with-the-punches attitude is helping her family get through a very difficult year.
On October 29, 2012, the storm surge from Superstorm Sandy pushed through the Raritan River flooding neighborhoods like Ariyana’s in Sayreville, New Jersey.
Ariyana’s grandfather, Scott Lane, was renting a two-story townhome with son Michael, daughter Zaida and Ariyana when Sandy hit. The first-level of their home was flooded with six-feet of water, destroying nearly everything they had.
The family stayed at the shelter in the town’s Senior Center and then moved into a hotel under FEMA’s Temporary Sheltering Assistance program while they waited for repairs to be made. Scott then learned their apartment building would be condemned, and his search for affordable housing began.
“It’s been a rough year for my family,” says Scott. “We were in limbo for quite a while, not knowing where we would live or how we would be able to afford it. If it weren’t for the Red Cross, I don’t know where we’d be. They really helped us out a lot.”
Funding from the American Red Cross helped the family move into a new apartment at the end of May. Rental assistance and assistance with furniture needs and other household goods were provided. The Red Cross case manager continues to keep in touch with the family.
When Ariyana learned that it was donations from the American people to the Red Cross that helped her family get into their new home, she quickly drew a picture, posted one of her cherished Princess stickers on it and handed it to the visitor.
“Here, this is me saying ‘thanks’ to everyone who helped me and my family get a couch, my bed, my grandpa’s bed, my uncle’s bed, our fridge, our kitchen cups, our knives and forks…” and the list went on from this grateful, vivacious, young Jersey Girl.
RECOVERY EFFORTS ONGOING Even as its emergency relief work was occurring, the Red Cross began to help people in the long recovery process that continues today. Trained Red Cross workers are meeting with those in need, providing case management and financial assistance to help with security and utility deposits, home repairs and rent as well as linking them to available social service programs.
The response and recovery from a storm of this size takes time and help from many organizations. Over the past year, the Red Cross has worked together with government and community partners at every step to provide assistance to those that need it most. In addition, the Red Cross has given $60 million in grants to a number of nonprofits working in New Jersey and New York to help people with home repairs, mold remediation, food, financial assistance and financial counseling, and to support the work of community roundtables to help address unmet needs.
THANK YOU The work of the Red Cross is possible because of the compassion and generosity of the American public, and the Red Cross already has spent or made commitments to spend $280 million, more than 90 percent of the $308 million donated for Sandy. The Red Cross expects to use the biggest share of the remaining money to help people with a range of housing-related expenses, support community resiliency programs and give more grants to community nonprofit partners to help Sandy survivors.
A One-Year Report and other information on the Red Cross Sandy relief and recovery efforts, including a list of recovery grants, can be found at www.redcross.org/sandy-response.