It was late October when Hurricane Sandy, already deadly in the Caribbean, took a westward turn and merged with a weather pattern in the Atlantic Ocean. And while the greatest wrath was born by New York and New Jersey, the 1,000-mile-across storm did not leave Massachusetts unscathed.
The American Red Cross of Massachusetts opened the Disaster Operations Center in Cambridge, where volunteers and staff quickly began organizing a response. Volunteers would eventually run eight shelters and tour damaged neighborhoods offering support before heading to South.
Parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island sustained significant destruction, and needed Massachusetts’ help. That’s when your local volunteers began to deploy to places like New York and New Jersey to help with everything from running shelters to feeding residents who had been weeks without power. Within months 60 deployments were made from the Cambridge headquarters of the Red Cross.
Volunteers from all over jumped into the effort, leaving their families behind for weeks at a time. Our CEO Jarrett Barrios also deployed. He supported shelter operations in the hard-hit areas of western Long Island, sleeping on a cot in a staff shelter. Many, like volunteer Lisa Contee of Medford, deployed more than once. She drove an Emergency Response Vehicle based in Boston to New York to help feed people in affected neighborhoods. Nationally, the Red Cross sent more than 230 vehicles to support recovery.
Spontaneous volunteer Daniel Lim most recently deployed in March, where he assisted displaced New Yorkers seeking to rebuild their lives. Those experiences in New York came in handy in Lynn in March when 75 people were displaced from their homes – Lim was among those with a wealth of experience jumping in to help those families recover.
Six months after Superstorm Sandy hit, the numbers are staggering: Red Cross volunteers distributed 7 million relief items, provided more than 17 million meals and snacks, provided nearly 113,000 health services and emotional support contacts for people living in extremely tough conditions, and provided more than 81,000 shelter stays.