When a natural disaster occurs, people immediately say, “Where is the Red Cross?” It has been over a month since Hurricane Sandy made landfall and the American Red Cross is still sending out volunteers to help in any way they can. Since the beginning of Sandy, the Red Cross has sent out nearly 9,000 workers from all 50 states to affected areas from North Carolina to Rhode Island. A majority of those deployed are still in the greater New York area and throughout New Jersey.
The Red Cross has always done their part during times of need. When Hurricane Irene hit our eastern shore in 2011, the Red Cross was front and center waiting to aid those in need. Now during the Sandy relief effort, they have distributed more than 2 million relief items such as clean up and hygiene kits, as well as over 6 million meals and snacks. The organization anticipated a wide scale response prior to Sandy. In the days after the hurricane and the Nor’ Easter, more than 1,900 people were impacted and spent the night in 16 shelters in New York and New Jersey.
In many ways, the damages that the storm caused were unexpected. Some residents took necessary precautions and others did not. Over the course of its path, the storm killed at least 124 people. 67 were from the Caribbean, 56 of the people killed were from the United States and one person in Canada was killed. In New Jersey alone, the storm claimed the lives of 40 residents.
While the loss of life was the most devastating consequence of Sandy, the storm also caused billions in damage and created widespread inconveniences for travelers and tourists. One example is a Kansas couple who had planned a New York engagement.The Huffington Post reported that Jordan Doom surprised his girlfriend Natalie Vandervort and her family with a trip to the city under the pretenses of visiting Vandervort’s sister. The couple enjoyed a fantastic dinner and rejoiced when Doom “popping the question,” but the celebrations were short lived when the storm hit. The family was forced to stay in the city due to the cancellations of all flights. Meanwhile, the storm wreaked havoc on the economy, with local and national impacts.
In a time of need, many people have stepped up to help out the East Coast during this devastating time. Paula Blase of Mystic Islands, Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J., lost her entire home and belongings due to the storm, but found help through the American Red Cross. Immediately after the storm hit, volunteers distributed hot meals at least three times a day, set up shelters, and sent out crews with dumpsters to help get rid of the trash that people can’t afford to get rid of themselves.
“On one hand, the storm has brought a lot of people in town closer, on the other hand there are scumbags taking advantage of people at such a low time, stealing anything they can get their hands on. A lot of people down here are renters, people that don't have a lot of money, so this is really hitting home for them," she said. "My neighbor was renting and the owner decided on knocking down the house, not rebuilding, and just selling the land. He and his family literally have nowhere to go. Fortunately, my parents make good money… We're in the process of buying a new house on pilings and fixing our house to rent out to our neighbor.”
The American Red Cross has partnered with business and corporations to help fund relief efforts. According to a press release in The Sacramento Bee, Aaron’s Inc., a lease-to-own retailer specializing in sales and lease ownership of residential furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, is donating $150,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to aid the millions of Americans that were affected by the storm. The New York Yankees donated $500,000 and Citi Foundation gave one million dollars in addition to the $500,000 they give to the American Red Cross Nationals Disaster Fund ever year. Addison Trail High School worked with BOOM Entertainment, a company that specializes in event production, and organized to host a mega dance to fundraising benefit to help the American Red Crosses’ Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts.
ABC Local reported that Staten Island, which was one of the hardest hit areas, had the Red Cross stage mobile feeding operations in six different locations. In New Jersey, four mobile kitchens have been set up that can feed about 80,000 people a day, and officials have stockpiled 350,000 ready-to-eat meals. In New York, over 250,000 meals a day will be provided. The Huffington Post also reported that, in total, the Red Cross donated over $11 million dollars. All of the money goes to families who were affected by the storm.
The American Red Cross has also partnered with other charitable organizations and corporations in providing relief. The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity have also set up a Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive and have been involved in relief efforts. Global health care company GlaxoSmithKline contributed $80,000 through the British Red Cross for relief efforts to the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean is where Sandy first touched land in places like Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. These islands are in need of help and support. According to the GlaxoSmithKline website, they are matching dollar-for-dollar all employee contributions to the Red Cross and other relief organizations in the United States. The company is also working to help raise additional donations to support the relief efforts in New Jersey. The company has been inspired to donate because some of their U.S. employees have been directly and seriously affected by this storm.
Similarly, North American Pharmaceuticals is another major organization involved in the relief. “Our hearts go out to those who have experienced loss due to the storm. We hope our support will help relief workers respond to their most pressing needs," said President Deirde Connelly.
People did not just lose their homes, properties, belongings, and jobs, but their confidence, comfort, and feeling of safety. Many friends and family members who were not personally affected are doing what they can to help.
Kimberly Klipper, a student a Rowan University, is from the North Jersey area and has worked in Seaside Heights over the summers.
“It hurts to see pictures and stories about people in Seaside and Staten Island as well as stories from my friends and family members about the devastation Sandy has caused them," she said. "I volunteered at my high school which served as a shelter to those who lived in Seaside. I also am putting together something for my aunt as a surprise to her and her family for Christmas. I also for Christmas am purchasing Restore the Shore shirts for my friends and myself for Christmas and the money goes directly to rebuilding Seaside Heights.”
The overwhelming response has given hope to local communities in New Jersey and beyond. It remains the hope of many that the East Coast will be restored before summer 2013.
Matt Pruett, Surfline Senior Staff Writer, writes, "Sandy made true believers of all East Coast surfers about the Yin/Yang nature of Hurricane Season. Those who all too often get thrashed by the destructive side got to reap historic rewards this time, while those who are typically out of harm's way to enjoy the fruits of good surf during these events were dealt their worst tropical blow ever. Sandy will not be forgotten — ever — by the East Coast surf community. It banded us together like no natural disaster before it."