Press Release: Ocean & Monmouth County Groups Receive Nearly $3 Million in Grants for Sandy Recovery

October 11, 2013

Tinton Falls, NJ, October 9, 2013 –The American Red Cross today awarded two grants totaling $2.95 million to the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and the Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group to support unmet needs roundtables formed to help disaster-affected Monmouth and Ocean County households.

The Red Cross grants will be used to repair and rebuild approximately 370 disaster affected homes to safe, secure and sanitary conditions and provide disaster case management services to help residents achieve long-term, sustainable recovery goals.

“Towns in Ocean and Monmouth County were among the hardest hit by Sandy, and the Red Cross is committed to helping these impacted communities come back stronger and more resilient against future storms,” said Nancy Orlando, regional CEO, American Red Cross South Jersey Region. “By partnering with the Long Term Recovery Groups here, we will continue to support Sandy survivors until all affected residents recover.”

The Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group will use its $1.85 million Red Cross grant to assist approximately 350 individuals and families whose primary household was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, prioritizing those residents most in need of service or funding. This assistance includes construction materials and rebuilding services, development and coordination of individualized long-term disaster recovery plans and volunteer labor.

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Story: Red Cross Helps Staten Island Nurse Return Home

July 26, 2013

As a registered nurse, Rosemarie Hall is used to taking care of others; but after Superstorm Sandy, she credits the American Red Cross with helping take care of her.

“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross because I was really in a bad situation,” Hall said. “They showed me hope.”

Hall has lived in her refurbished, 1930s three-bedroom Staten Island bungalow for seven years.

Like many New Yorkers in 2011, her home didn’t sustain much damage from Hurricane Irene, so she decided she would not evacuate for Sandy.

Hall was home the night Sandy blew into her southeast Staten Island neighborhood located just blocks from the water and Midland Beach.

“I was looking out the window, and I watched the flood come through,” she said. “The water in the street was three feet high.”

Hall’s heating unit and water heater are located in a room built onto the side of the home. When Sandy made landfall, water began to pour into the utility room.

“I watched my deck fill up, I watched my heating system fill up,” she said. “It all got destroyed.”

The water also crept into the living area of her home through the crawlspace. In the end, her heating system, water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, couch, and many of her belongings were damaged.

She spent six weeks in evacuation centers and a shelter, then five months in a hotel.

Hall would return to her home to clean what she could and recover from the storm.

“The Red Cross gave me a disaster package, a mold kit, and I came here. I scrubbed the floors and it helped it from growing up in here,” Hall said.

Red Cross Case Manager Kevin Rivero was assigned to Hall’s case and determined she would be a good candidate for the Red Cross Move-In Assistance Program.

The program works with families displaced by Sandy to move them back into sustainable housing. Eligible, Sandy-affected residents may receive up to $10,000 for expenses, including home repairs, rent, security deposit, moving costs, brokerage fees, temporary housing/or furniture and appliances and more.

The generosity of donors allowed the Red Cross to be able to provide Hall with funds for a new heating system, water heater, new refrigerator, dishwasher and new couch.

“Thank you to the Red Cross and to all who donated to the Red Cross,” she said. “Because of you, I’m back in my home.”

Press Release: American Red Cross Awards $1.5 Million to the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church to Help With Sandy Recovery

July 11, 2013

Tinton Falls, NJ, June 28, 2013 – The American Red Cross today awarded a $1,500,000 grant to the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church for Superstorm Sandy recovery work with the elderly, disabled and low-income families.

“We are so pleased to partner with the Red Cross to help the most vulnerable populations within New Jersey who were affected by Sandy,” said Bobbie Ridgely, director of A Future with Hope, Inc. and the Sandy recovery efforts of GNJUMC. “Thanks to this generous funding, we will be able to identify and work with Sandy survivors who require special care, and help them build a new future over the next 18 months.”

The Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church has close to 600 congregations in the New Jersey area. It established an independent non-profit organization, A Future with Hope, Inc., to focus on relief and recovery, most notably in construction/repair and disaster case management. This grant will help an estimated 190 New Jersey families and repair 75 homes, as well as assist the organization train and deploy up to 1,000 volunteers in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

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VIDEO: Guardian Life Insurance Volunteer Day with the Red Cross

June 4, 2013

On Friday, May 31, 2013, forty employees from Guardian Life Insurance volunteered with the American Red Cross in partnership with New York Cares to “muck out” a home damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The Red Cross continues to help with recovery every day through volunteer events like this and by working with families to provide financial assistance.

Disaster Update: Red Cross Awards $1.25M Grant to Brooklyn Community Foundation

May 30, 2013

VIDEO: Sandy Survivors Find Hope Through Red Cross

April 24, 2013

STORY: Strength in Tragedy

March 8, 2013

By Ashley Chapman

Strength in TragedyMaria Castro likes to talk about how her 17-year old son, Jorge Rosario—or Jay Jay, as she calls him—spontaneously dove into the freezing ocean on a cold day last November after a construction job for post-Sandy clean up in the Rockaways.

Not long after that, Jorge was fatally shot in the head at a party in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

For Maria and her remaining three children: Diamond, 12; Reyshawn, 6; and Crystal, 1; the months since then have become increasingly difficult. Three months after the Castro family lost Jorge, they lost their home.

On February 17, a fire started in the apartment next door to the Castro’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Maria was across the street while Diamond was home with the baby, Crystal. Maria saw smoke coming out of the building and started running towards it just as Diamond emerged, carrying Crystal in her arms.

“The first thing I thought was ‘Thank God, my kids are okay,’” said Maria. “But then I began to think, ‘What else will God put in front of me’? I don’t bother nobody, I don’t hurt nobody.”

The fire destroyed the Castro’s apartment on a bitter cold morning when New Yorkers were stocking up on winter supplies, preparing for the snowstorm that was expected to hit the next day. But unlike most people, the Castros had not only lost their basic supplies—necessities like baby blankets and diapers—they had also lost all of their possessions, including irreplaceable photos of Jorge.

Within hours of the fire, the New York Red Cross provided Maria and her kids with vital emergency support: diapers and a blanket for the baby, a debit card to purchase essential items, and hotel lodging for the entire family. Since then, the Red Cross has helped the Castros get settled into a more permanent home.

“As a mother protecting her children,” said Maria, “if I didn’t have the Red Cross to put us in a hotel, I think I would have just gone to a hospital waiting room to sleep. At least it would be warm and safe there for my kids. Otherwise, we’d be on the streets.”

“My kids are my priority,” she added. She admitted that the past few months have been especially hard on Diamond, who, at 12, is old enough to absorb the pain.

“My daughter cried a lot and said things like, ‘I lost my big brother. Now we are losing our home. What else will happen to us?’” Maria said.

For now, Maria tries to provide her kids a sense of comfort in the routine. On the first Sunday after the fire, she took them to church and then to get ice cream, as they had every other Sunday. That was when Diamond asked her what the Red Cross does.

“I explained to her how the Red Cross has helped us,” Maria said. “And she said, ‘The Red Cross makes us safe. Without the Red Cross, we would be sleeping in our car, Mom.’”

These days, when you ask Maria how she is doing now, she speaks evenly, but then her voice cracks.

“I will not forget about him,” she said. “Everything is hitting me and I’ve got to be strong. I have to stay focused. I thank God every day for waking me up. I say, ‘Today’s a new day, I have to keep my head up.”

With the help of the Red Cross, this task has hopefully been made a little easier.

Giving and Serving in Coney Island

February 11, 2013


By Michael de Vulpillieres, Communications Officer, American Red Cross Greater New York Region

“Water came in from both sides,” said Connie Hulla, pointing to the walls of her Coney Island church exactly 100 days after Sandy made landfall.

She had seen major storms here before, just never anything like this.

“Sandy nearly flooded the entire peninsula,” she said.

Hulla is pastor at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, a church on the peninsula’s North side, a densely populated area comprised of housing projects and row houses.

“This community was struggling before the storm,” said Hulla. “Now it’s devastated.”

Like most of the buildings around it, Connie’s church was badly damaged. She considers herself lucky. “The whole structure could have come down,” she said.

The church’s basement, which housed the boiler and the electrical system, was destroyed. Thirteen feet of water flowed through an area that, days earlier, served as a homeless shelter.

But despite the damage, the church almost immediately became a relief hub in Coney Island; a safe place for the community to find donated clothing, food, relief supplies, and hope.

“We’ve just done what we’ve always done,” Hulla recalled. “Giving and serving.”

That was the basis on which her father founded the church 55 years ago.

“My family started the church to meet a lot of the needs caused by the serious levels of poverty here,” said Hulla.

Over the years, Hulla’s church has become an institution in Coney Island. So after Sandy, it was logical for residents to come here seeking help.

Within hours of Sandy’s landfall, donated food, water, clothing, clean-up supplies, diapers, and other items poured in, and thousands of locals lined up every day and night seeking assistance.

Hulla has been addressing needs for Sandy relief around the clock. Early on, she and her team of volunteers worked 18 to 20 hour days. She said that even today, it’s still a 24/7 job. (A job in which no one actually gets paid.)

Throughout her response to the storm, Hulla has received assistance from the American Red Cross.

“Everything the Red Cross does here makes a difference,” she said.

It began when truckloads of clothing and relief supplies were delivered to the church.

The organization has also provided thousands of meals to Coney Island residents which Hulla called, “a Godsend.”

She was referring to the dire situation in Coney Island, one where the storm took out so much of the local infrastructure that finding food and preparing meals has been so difficult.

To help, Red Cross food trucks canvassed nearby streets distributing hot meals, water and snacks. Additional Red Cross vehicles were stationed in front of Hulla’s church distributing food to hundreds more every day. Today, the Red Cross continues to deliver meals.

“Seeing the Red Cross sends a message of hope to the community.” Hulla said, “It tells us that we are not abandoned.”

In addition to prepared meals, grocery boxes funded by the American Red Cross are also distributed from Hulla’s church.

“A lot of people here were having a tough time purchasing food before the storm. Now, with the added financial burden that Sandy has caused, it’s almost impossible.”

But for a neighborhood that has seen its share of tough times, Hulla said the significance of the Red Cross goes beyond food and supplies.

“Red Cross volunteers bring such positive energy,” Hulla said. “We are not used to that. It lifts people up; it infuses the community. We need that here.”

“And for me personally,” Hulla added. “Seeing them tells me that I don’t have to do this alone.”

PRESS RELEASE: Red Cross, Mayor’s Fund, and Robin Hood Foundation launch $15 Million Mold Remediation project in NYC

February 1, 2013


Unique Public-Private Partnership to Help Expand Mold Treatment Assistance in Affected Neighborhoods

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations today announced a new initiative to address water damage and treat mold in homes impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Since Hurricane Sandy, the City has provided comprehensive guidance on how to safely and effectively treat mold, and has collaborated with the Environmental Contractors Association to supply homeowners and volunteers with proper equipment to remove it. While homeowners can use FEMA assistance to address mold, costs can be significant, and there is no direct Federal funding available for mold remediation. Using private money raised to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is launching a remediation program to remove mold in approximately 2,000 homes in the hardest hit areas. In partnership with the American Red Cross and the Robin Hood Foundation, the Mayor’s Fund is sponsoring a $15 million remediation program that will be administered by Neighborhood Revitalization NYC, an affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a community development not-for-profit corporation with 30 years of experience working in New York City. Neighborhood Revitalization NYC will coordinate mold treatment that will be performed at no cost to the homeowner by private contractors and not-for-profit organizations. In addition to the direct mold treatment program, the Mayor’s Fund is sponsoring new awareness and safe practice trainings on mold treatment work. These free training sessions will take place in many of the hardest hit communities to educate homeowners and volunteers on how to effectively treat mold, and thousands of mold supply kits will be distributed at no cost. Read the rest of this entry »

STORY: Partners in Providing Comfort

January 30, 2013

Written by Tracy Duncan

Hurricane Sandy: NC Baptists Command Unit

In the parking lot of Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, you’ll find trailers and tents of various sizes. Many of those trailers belong to the Red Cross, but if you look nearby, you’ll see several from the North Carolina Baptists on Mission.

The North Carolina Baptists on Mission is a statewide group dedicated to the disaster relief ministry and is focused on relieving human suffering caused by disasters. They fulfill their mission by providing hot meals, debris removal and other services. The group has been in New York since shortly after Hurricane Sandy made land fall, sending crews to help remove mud and debris from homes, install sheet rock and other rebuilding services much needed by those left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake.

While the crews of men head into neighborhoods during the day, another crew remains behind in this self-sufficient community. The North Carolina Baptists have bunk trailers, shower trailers, kitchen trailers, command trailers, utility/tool trailers and even a laundry trailer. They haul in their own water, which are refilled by local military groups.

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