American Red Cross New Jersey Sandy Response
When Superstorm Sandy made landfall nearly eighteen months ago outside Atlantic City, packing a punch as powerful as feared, the significant and unprecedented damage in New Jersey that ensued was met with a significant response from the Red Cross. In fact, Sandy was the biggest U.S. disaster response by the American Red Cross in more than five years, supported by generous donations from people and businesses across the nation.
Before Sandy reached the state, the Red Cross was on the ground in New Jersey with shelter and support for the tens of thousands of people affected by this huge storm. The Red Cross response in New Jersey in just the first six months included:
- More than 4 million meals and snacks delivered to those affected across the state
- Distributing more than 1.5 million relief items, including clean-up and comfort kits
- Opening and assisting at more than 65 shelters
- Emotional support and health contacts for more than 23,000 people in need
- More than 4,000 volunteers came from around the country to help out in the state contributing more than 395,000 volunteer hours to the Red Cross in New Jersey.
Millions of dollars’ worth of Sandy-specific in-kind donations (everything from batteries to baby food, food trucks to internet services) flowed from generous corporate donors through the Red Cross to the people of New Jersey.
However, even as the Red Cross worked to help Sandy survivors, the day-to-day emergency response duties of the Red Cross also continued. In fact, Red Cross chapters in New Jersey responded to nearly 420 home fires, helping more than 2,300 people in the state within the five months after Sandy’s landfall.
The Red Cross has $311.5 million in donations for our Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts, and as of February 28, we have spent or made commitments to spend $291 million – more than 93 percent of that amount.
The majority of these donations – about $196 million – were specifically “restricted” for Hurricane Sandy relief. In addition, the Red Cross took the unprecedented step of allocating to its Sandy response another $115.5 million in contributions made by donors to its general Disaster Relief program. The Red Cross has spent the money donated for Sandy quickly, carefully and wisely – and in line with the intent of its donors. We are proud that an average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.
Move-In Assistance Program
Within weeks of landfall, it became clear that housing was the critical need for New Jersey residents in the aftermath of Sandy. The Red Cross worked quickly, with guidance from FEMA and other state partners, and developed the Move-In Assistance Program to enable residents with urgent housing needs to repair their homes or relocate to safe, sustainable housing.
The program provides financial assistance of up to $10,000 to eligible households, whose primary homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable, for a range of housing-related expenses, including rent, building supplies, temporary housing, storage and moving costs, appliances and furniture.
As of March 31, 2014, the Red Cross has provided more than 1,500 New Jersey households with $7.36 million in financial assistance through the Move in Assistance Program.
Gap Funding Initiative
In October, 2013, the American Red Cross and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (HSNJRF) partnered with the Department of Community Affairs to create the Gap Funding Initiative (GFI) to help homeowners cover the cost of home repairs they face as a result of Sandy damage. Recognizing that the state-administered rebuilding grants will not be sufficient in order for hundreds of New Jersey homeowners to restore their homes, the GFI is offering grants of up to $30,000 to eligible homeowners who have been approved for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grants to bridge these financial gaps.
GFI is supported by $10 million of Red Cross Sandy funds and $5.2 million from the HSNJRF and administrated through New Jersey Community Capital. As of April 5, 2014, GFI grants have been approved for 139 households, with an average award size of more than $18,700 per household.
Long Term Recovery Groups
A priority for our Sandy recovery work in New Jersey is collaborating with impacted communities to enable the execution of recovery decisions at the local level. The Red Cross is an active participant in all 18 of the Long Term Recovery Groups across the state and worked to get these groups up and running since the early days after the storm.
In total, the Red Cross has funded more than $6.5 million to the Long Term Recovery Groups in the nine most impacted counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union, Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth, Atlantic and Cape May, plus Atlantic City. This funding has supported staff positions, including case managers or construction supervisors, and has been directly distributed to impacted residents for home repairs, furniture and temporary housing.
In April, 2014, the Red Cross designated $600,000 in funding for Sandy recovery work in Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden Counties. Since residents of these counties are not eligible to apply for state-administered rebuilding grants, for many families the Red Cross assistance is the only major source of support available to them.
Our partnership with LTRGs across the state not only speeds recovery, but helps engage the entire community in building the capacity and resilience needed as we face disasters of this type in the future.
Additional Local Sandy Support
The Red Cross has provided grants totaling more than $79 million to a range of nonprofit partner groups for home repairs, direct financial assistance for recovery needs, volunteer programs, case management and mental health services across Sandy impacted communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and West Virginia. Groups receiving Red Cross Sandy grants for local recovery work in New Jersey, in addition to the Long Term Recovery Groups include:
- Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church
- The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
- The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
- Rebuilding Together
- Habitat for Humanity International
- Lutheran Disaster Response
- Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
- Catholic Charities USA
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul
- Points of Light
- Salvation Army
- Save the Children
- Ironbound Community Corporation
- Community Affairs and Resource Center
- Puerto Rican Association for Human Development
- Puerto Rican Action Committee of Southern New Jersey
- HOPE worldwide ltd
- Mental Health Association in New Jersey
- NJ2-1-1/NJ VOAD
- World Renew
- Operation Hope
- Mennonite Disaster Service
- Brethren Disaster Ministries
- NECHAMA—Jewish Response to Disaster
- Church World Service
The Road Ahead for New Jersey
Trained Red Cross case managers have been meeting one-on-one with individuals and families across the state for the last eighteen months, helping them to create recovery plans and connecting them with the emotional, financial or physical needs they require to reach resolution. The feedback from our case managers on the needs of our residents has helped guide the creation of our Red Cross recovery programs, such as GFI, and the allocation of local grants, and will continue to guide our remaining resources.
Our work with Long Term Recovery Groups will begin to transition from a leadership role to a supporting role as these groups move their communities through recovery. When these organizations move back into an “on call” state, the Red Cross will continue to provide support and training on preparedness so we are better equipped to face the next storm.
The Red Cross is also working closely with FEMA to help the state adopt a new formal structure for how we collectively respond to all future disasters in New Jersey. Based on our work with Sandy, Katrina and countless other disasters around the country, the Red Cross is in a unique position to help facilitate the process and steer our planning here in New Jersey.
Through the Red Cross’s extensive experience, it recognizes both immediate relief help and long-term assistance are necessary components of the response efforts from a disaster like Sandy. We are proud to be an embedded partner in communities across the state and grateful for the support of our donors that has enabled us to help New Jersey come back stronger and more resilient.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and New Jersey Crossroads Community Chapter Executive Christy Hodde visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey on April 1st to talk to students about emergency preparedness.
Ms. Cabello’s third grade and Ms. Dillon’s fourth grade classes learned how they can help prepare themselves and their families for emergencies by having a family disaster plan and an emergency kit.
To help get students started in building their own emergency kit, Assemblywoman Quijano handed out flashing emergency lights, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The students enjoyed testing out their new emergency lights.
Assemblywoman Quijano is committed to educating the community about disaster preparedness. Last September, the Red Cross recognized Quijano for her dedication to helping the people of New Jersey prepare for disasters. Assemblywoman Quijano serves as Chairwoman for the NJ Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Preparedness and takes an active role in arranging Red Cross preparedness presentations in the community.
Christy Hodde distributed Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Books containing information that teaches children and their families how to prepare for and respond to a wide range of disasters and emergencies through puzzles, interactive games and activities. Christy Hodde tested the students’ knowledge of the Red Cross and emergency preparedness with quick-fire questions. Students enthusiastically raised their hands to prove how much they knew about emergency preparedness.
The Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Book was developed through a joint imitative with Disney to help kids and families prepare for disasters and other emergencies.
The children were excited to have the Red Cross and Assemblywoman Quijano visit their school and couldn’t wait to open the Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Books.
“During disasters, children have unique vulnerabilities and often require special attention,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “We are grateful for Disney’s ongoing commitment to the Red Cross, which allows us to develop innovative ways to educate children about the importance of preparedness and care for them during emergencies.”
The Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Books can be viewed by visiting www.redcross.org/prepare.
Members of the Red Cross joined other local organizations at the Emergency Preparedness Expo on March 30 at the Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River to help educate the community about disaster preparedness.
The Expo brought together local organizations with information on what to do before, during and after an emergency. The Red Cross and other organizations provided table displays throughout the Cavallini Middle School gym featuring preparedness resources and information. Attendees visited tables to learn how to be better prepared in the event of an emergency.
Red Cross Regional Preparedness Manager Paul Gass and volunteers Rose Mathew, Wayne Flavien, and Paul Lalka manned the Red Cross table where they distributed preparedness information and discussed the importance having a family disaster plan and emergency preparedness kit with expo attendees.
The Emergency Preparedness Expo was organized by Girl Scout Elizabeth Menton of Upper Saddle River Troop 1271 as her Gold Award Project. The 16-year-old decided to organize the Expo after seeing the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in her community.
“Hurricane Sandy started me on the project,” said Menten. “I saw a need for people to know more about preparedness.”
Following Superstorm Sandy 80 percent of Upper Saddle River roads were impassable and 99 of the town was without power.
“Hurricane Sandy especially made us recognize how truly vulnerable we can be during a severe weather event,” Chief Patrick Rotella of the Upper Saddle River Police Department told attendees. “If the last few years are any indication of what mother nature has in store for us then it is imperative that we all work to prepare accordingly to ensure the safety of ourselves, our family and our community.”
Other Expo participants included the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management, Bergen CountyCommunity Animal Response Team, Bergen County Community Emergency Response Team), Nelson-Patterson Insurance Agency, Valley Hospital Emergency Medical Services and Bergen County Health Services.
The Red Cross is here to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be for potential disasters and other emergencies. These events can strike suddenly, at any time and anywhere. There are three actions everyone can take that can help make a difference.
Be Red Cross Ready Checklist
- Know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in your community
- Have a family disaster plan and practice it
- Have an emergency preparedness kit
- Ensure at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR/AED
- Take action to help your community prepare
For information on how to prepare yourself and your family visit www.redcross.org/prepare.
As a show of support for the community’s seniors, Mercer County area mayors joined volunteers to deliver meals to Red Cross Home Delivered Meals clients on March 27 during Mayors for Meals Day.
Mayor Peter Cantu of Plainsboro, Mayor Liz Lempert of Princeton, Mayor Janice Mironov of East Windsor, Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh of West Windsor and Mayor Kelly Yaede of Hamilton delivered meals to Red Cross Home Delivered Meals clients in their towns.
Mayor Cantu delivered a meal to and visited with Home Delivered Meals client Margarite Cornish of Plainsboro.
“I’m very appreciative of the meal and the volunteers,” said Cornish.
During their visit, Cornish told Mayor Cantu and Red Cross volunteer Julia Nemtsova stories about her late husband and their eight children and 17 grandchildren.
“The clients have great stories,” says Nemstova.
Mayor Mironov presented a proclamation during Mayors for Meals Day to the Red Cross in honor of Red Cross Month.
In recognition of March for Meals, Bottom Dollar Food presented a $2,000 donation to American Red Cross of Central New Jersey to support the Home Delivered Meals Program. Representatives from Bottom Dollar presented a check to the Red Cross and accompanied East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov in delivering a meal to a Home Delivered Meals client.
“Two things we’re passionate about at Bottom Dollar Food are providing our customers with unbelievable prices on groceries and working to eliminate hunger in our community,” said Earl Casler, store manager of Bottom Dollar Food’s East Windsor location. “We’re proud to make today’s donation during March for Meals and partner with the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey to support their Meals on Wheels program, which helps to provide food to our local seniors.”
The American Red Cross of Central New Jersey’s Home Delivered Meals Program delivers daily nutritious meals to those who are homebound and those unable to prepare meals for themselves in the Mercer County area. Last year the Red Cross of Central New Jersey delivered more than 44,000 meals to more than175 clients in the Mercer County area.
Mayors for Meals Day is in support of March for Meals, a national campaign by the Meals on Wheels Association of America which coincides with March is Red Cross Month. The Red Cross is a participant in the March for Meals national campaign, which aims to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of the local community. Mayors and other local officials deliver meals in March to show their support of their local senior nutrition program.
The American Red Cross of Central New Jersey Home Delivered Meals Program helps homebound and elderly residents maintain independent, healthy life styles by providing a warm, nutritious meal delivered by dedicated Red Cross volunteers. Individuals with
mid-day availability can volunteer at their convenience – one or five days per week orone day a month – which they schedule according to their availability to deliver meals to local seniors. For more information on how you can volunteer, visit redcross.org/Princeton or contact Red Cross Coordinator Brandon Verrault at (609) 951-2124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the Red Cross of Central New Jersey Home Delivered Meals Program.
By Curtis Hoberman, Red Cross volunteer
It was 20 years ago today – my first disaster response.
It’s not easy to forget - it was the response to the Durham Woods Gas Explosion in Edison.
Edison High School became the Reception Center, as school was not in session that day. The cafeteria teemed with activity of families reuniting, food being served to the affected families, and the work of family services beginning as classrooms became casework centers.
In the days that followed, the Red Cross became a source of information and acted as somewhat of a liaison for displaced families with representatives of the pipeline company. The company helped cover the families’ expenses for relocation and their accommodations.
My involvement in disaster services began with an introductory course in 1993 as taught by Disaster Services staff member Doris Harper. I became interested in Disaster Services after having witnessed the American Red Cross disaster response to what was then the biggest disaster response of that time, the major flooding of the Mississippi River and Missouri River watersheds in 1993.
A friend in Princeton, Jane Fremon, headmistress of the Princeton Friends School, volunteered and helped in Illinois on that one. I was inspired by her service to get involved in Disaster Services, after having been involved in the Red Cross since 1972 as a health and safety services instructor in Water Safety, Lifeguarding, CPR, and First Aid.
It has been an honor to serve my community and state as a Red Cross Disaster Services Volunteer. I am still amazed that I have the privilege of being involved in a helping and supportive role at the time of greatest need in the life of a person or a family. I think of Clara Barton responding in disaster relief to the flood in Johnstown, PA, in 1889 and to the hurricane in Galveston, TX, in 1900, and am in awe that I am part of that heritage of responding to those in need.
We do important work. We do great work in serving others. We have a fantastic team.