This story is written by Red Cross worker Jamie Dierking.
Every day, the power of partnerships and people has resulted in progress for those affected by Superstorm Sandy. On Jan. 11, 2014, volunteers from the American Red Cross teamed with Rebuilding Together NYC to help repair the home of Rocco Brescia of Coney Island.
“These people are giving up their time, spending the day here,” Brescia, 59, said. “I don’t know what to say to them. It means a lot to know that people are helping and that people care.”
This summer, the Red Cross awarded a $2.25 million grant to Rebuilding Together to help bring nearly 90 homes devastated by Sandy back to safe and healthy housing conditions. With the help of this Red Cross funding, local affiliates of Rebuilding Together and volunteers in New York City, Long Island, Bergen County and Jersey City are providing free critical home repairs in many of the areas affected by Sandy.
Repairs to homes include electrical and plumbing, flooring, drywall, painting, basement and exterior rehabilitation. People eligible for such repairs include low-income families, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and veterans.
“We’re so thankful for the partnership with the American Red Cross,” said Emily Bachman, volunteer and special projects coordinator, Rebuilding Together NYC. “The Red Cross has been so helpful making projects like this happen, both with funding and with volunteers. We couldn’t do it without partnerships like this.”
Brescia is the original homeowner of his Coney Island townhome located less than two blocks from the ocean. He moved in nearly 30 years ago. On Oct. 29, 2012, Sandy made landfall and forced him out.
“Everything was destroyed,” Brescia said. “I have a four-foot crawlspace plus six feet of water on the first floor, so you’re talking 10 feet of water.”
Today, he is living in a rented apartment nearby, but he hopes to soon be back in his home. “Rebuilding Together put in hardwood floors, put in my bathroom, they painted for me and now they’re doing the final touches and just trying to help me get back in.”
Volunteers helping Rebuilding Together on Jan. 11 included students who are part of the Red Cross Club at Hunter College. “This is my community and I really felt like I’d be giving back,” said Farwa Ilyas, a junior majoring in psychology and chemistry. “The joy you see in the faces of other people when you help them motivates me.”
Work that volunteers completed included painting the molding and baseboards, caulking, installing hardware, and assembling furniture. Brescia also received funding for furniture, appliances and other home repairs through the Red Cross Move-In Assistance Program.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Brescia said. “I don’t know you guys, but you guys have come into my life to help me. That means a lot and I’m thankful.”
Namibia is suffering from severe drought conditions after one of the driest rainy seasons in decades. The lack of available water is causing a strain on local farmers resulting in food shortage and loss of livestock. Cholera and malnutrition cases are increasing, likely due to the shortage of safe water sources and poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
In May 2013, the government of Namibia declared a state of emergency for the estimated 331,000 people living in rural areas affected by the drought.
Since the beginning of this operation, the Namibia Red Cross has worked alongside the global Red Cross network and other humanitarian partners to develop an operations plan and complete needs assessments. The Namibia Red Cross is providing support by delivering assistance in water, food security, and cash grants and is aiming to reach 55,000 people.
In July 2013, the American Red Cross committed $70,000 to the International Federation appeal to support the response operation. This contribution will help the Namibia Red Cross provide immediate relief including food, emergency relief items, and cash grants to the affected populations. As of January 2014, the American Red Cross has also deployed one specialist to support the Namibia Red Cross with the distribution of cash grants for food.
For more information on the disaster, visit http://www.redcross.org.na/.
The American Red Cross is contributing $50,000 to help those affected by food insecurity caused by drought and below-normal rainfall in Zimbabwe.
The disaster has impacted approximately 2.2 million people—a 32 percent increase since March 2013—primarily in the southern regions of the country. For the past three years, the late onset of rainfall followed by prolonged dry spells, poor agricultural practices and limited access to goods have contributed to a smaller harvest and worsening food security situation.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross is coordinating with the government, partners from the global Red Cross network, and other international organizations to implement food security, water and sanitation, and disaster management programs. With these partners, the Zimbabwe Red Cross hopes to reach 10,500 people with cash grants, agricultural supplies, and water and sanitation activities. Along with providing immediate life-saving needs, they aim to strengthen the affected communities with support for rural farming/gardening and income generation.
The American Red Cross contribution will help the Zimbabwe Red Cross provide immediate relief to the affected populations including cash grants for food, water, and agriculture support.
Alabama - Many motorists have been stranded by a severe winter storm passing through the state.
The region has opened about ten shelters and is supporting one.
Louisiana - A strong winter storm caught motorists by surprise leaving them stranded.The region has opened five shelters and is supporting one. The chapter has staff on site at the GOHSEP EOC and in Lafayette Parish.
Mississippi - A winter weather resulting in a blizzard stranded motorists in parts of the state yesterday.
The chapter collaborated with the Mississippi Emergency Management Administration and staffed the local Emergency Operations Center.
Chapter provided supplies and meals to a shelter opened by the local EMA.
Chapter supplied cots, snacks and blankets to stranded travelers.
Florida - A winter weather system is expected in the region within the next 24-48 hours.
The North Florida Region volunteers have opened two shelters and are in communication with Emergency Managers.
Georgia - A winter storm dumped a higher than expected amount of ice in the northern parts of the state causing commuter traffic problems and resulting in a traffic gridlock. Many motorists were stranded by the storm.
The region is supporting seven shelters.
The ongoing crisis in Syria has affected 9.3 million people, or 43 percent of the total population, and has claimed the lives of more than 100,000. An estimated 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria, and an additional 2.3 million refugees have fled the country.
The influx of refugees in neighboring countries including Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey is straining the resources of host communities, where the most pressing needs continue to be access to adequate shelter, food, health care and education. In addition, the winter has brought an increased need for blankets, stoves and protective clothing due to the current winter weather.
In Syria, education has been disrupted for 3 million children and the conflict has caused long term damage to the ecomony with an estimated 60% of the work force currently unemployed.
The American Red Cross continues to support the humanitarian relief efforts caused by the crsiis in Syria. An additional $500,000 has been committed to the relief efforts. This contribution will support services to Syrian refugees in Iraq, where the Iraqi Red Crescent is distributing relief supplies, setting up tents and providing health care and clean water.
This brings the total support of the American Red Cross to more than $1.5 million to date. The American Red Cross also sent a shelter specialist to Lebanon to support the Lebanese Red Crescent.
New York - The American Red Cross remains at the scene of a 3-alarm high-rise fire on West 43rd Street in Manhattan to a provide assistance to the building’s residents. Four apartments suffered severe damage from this blaze.
Red Cross teams are currently working with residents to determine their emergency needs (this includes emergency lodging, emotional support). The Red Cross has also been providing blankets, water, and snacks to dozens outside and in the building’s lobby.
It has been a busy three-day period for the Red Cross in Greater NY that coincided with a large snow storm and extreme cold. Since early Friday morning, our disaster workers have responded to nearly 35 incidents, including fires (several multi-alarm), water main breaks and building vacates. The Red Cross also worked with emergency partners to open 2 warming centers on Long Island.
The Red Cross volunteers are mobilized to respond to additional disasters during the coming days with particular attention made to a new cold front arriving in our area on Tuesday (Red Cross sees spike in home fires during extreme weather).