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.
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