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Red Cross and Rebuilding Together Repair Sandy-Damaged Homes

“It looked like Niagara Falls coming down the basement stairs.”

As Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, Ed Abbate was relieved to find only a few trickles of water in the basement of the Little Ferry home he shares with his wife Lisa. As a precaution, Ed moved some of the couple’s items off of the basement floor and onto a table in case more water seeped in. Less than an hour later, the Abbate’s heard a crack as the back door of their home gave way under the pressure of a sudden surge of water from the Hackensack River. 

“It just started pouring in,” said Ed. “It looked like Niagara Falls coming down the basement stairs.”

More than five feet of water quickly flooded the basement, destroying the home’s electrical panel, boiler and water heater. The washer and dryer floated in the water and Ed recalls hearing the continuous thumping noise from the appliances hitting the ceiling as they bobbed up and down. 

The storm’s intense winds ripped the gutters and roof from the home allowing the first floor to fill with two inches of water. As the water began to saturate the walls the drywall peeled off exposing the home’s framework, insulation and electrical system.

On April 26, American Red Cross North Jersey Region staff and board members volunteered alongside more than 200 other Rebuilding Together volunteers working to repair seven Bergen County homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy, including the Abbate’s home.


The Red Cross provided a $2.25 million Sandy Recovery Grant to Rebuilding Together to repair and rebuild Sandy-damaged homes in New Jersey and New York. The grant is helping Rebuilding Together Bergen County bring at least 30 homes flooded by Sandy back to safe and healthy housing conditions. These funds will allow homeowners in Little Ferry and Moonachie to rebuild their lives and return to their homes.

“We’re here helping to support Rebuilding Together and this project,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “It’s really great to see our donor dollars at work and to lend a hand swinging a hammer for the day.”

Throughout the day Red Cross volunteers removed debris from the walls and installed drywall on the walls and ceiling. 


“Wow. What a difference,” said Lisa returning home as volunteers worked to finish hanging drywall in her dining room.

The Abbate’s said words can’t express how grateful they are for all of the help they have received.

“Thank you very much for everything you did,” Lisa told the volunteers. “We appreciate all you have done and continue to do for us.”

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. The Red Cross has spent or committed $291 million – nearly 93 percent of the donated funds – as of February 28, 2014.

This week the Red Cross awarded $100,000 grants to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey to distribute groceries to low-income households.

These grants will feed more than 2,500 New Jersey residents of Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May Counties who continue to experience financial hardships due to Sandy’s devastating impact on housing, employment, transportation and financial stability. 

In addition to these grants, the Red Cross has partnered with numerous organizations to support the recovery of New Jersey families and communities affected by Sandy. The Sandy recovery efforts include housing assistance, case management, mental health services, volunteer coordination and construction services. 

More information on the Red Cross Sandy relief and recovery efforts, including a list of Recovery Grants, can be found at