Stars of Hope in Breezy Point

January 22, 2013


Written by Brian Scoles

BREEZY POINT, N.Y. – Love, Peace, Joy. The words echo a 1960s street demonstration. A drive around Breezy Point, N.Y., reveals scenes out of a battle-ravaged village in World War II Europe.

But this is 2013, and the location with the cheerful name is just a dozen miles from downtown New York City. The words “Love” “Peace” and “Joy” decorate hundreds of brightly painted Stars of HOPE scattered throughout an ocean-front area devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

American Red Cross volunteers see the stars every day as they deliver hot meals to hundreds of residents still without electricity and water – some without their homes – even now, nearly three months after screaming winds, monumental tidal surges and out-of-control fires ripped through this bungalow community.

“The color is such a bright contrast to the black and grey of charred homes and trees, and the ashen remains of what was once someone’s home,” said one Red Cross disaster worker. “They command your attention and deliver their messages of hope.”

As the Red Cross has shifted its Sandy response from immediate emergency needs to long-term recovery, volunteers know that encouragement and emotional support are vital for community restoration. Trained Red Cross disaster mental health workers continue to meet with storm victims, to assess their needs and, if necessary, refer them to local mental health services.

Meanwhile, Stars of HOPE is lending a hand to the recovery effort. The non-profit organization was founded in 2007 after a F5 tornado ravaged Greensburg, Kansas. Stars of HOPE works with schools and community leaders in a disaster-affected community to enlist children to paint inspirational words and messages on plywood stars and decorate them in bright colors.

The purpose of the stars is to bring color into a devastated area and to re-instill a sense of hope and community. Each town that receives stars then paints stars for the next town that experiences a disaster. Breezy Point received some of its stars from Minot, N.D. and local New York school children.

Day by day, storm-ravaged communities in Queens are seeing public services and commercial activity restored, allowing more people to resume normal lives.

However, an estimated 1,900 people are still living in hotels or other temporary housing; many others are struggling financially because their workplaces were crippled by the storm. The Red Cross and its partner organizations are delivering thousands of meals a day to meet feeding needs.

Meanwhile, Red Cross nurses and counselors are increasingly seeing survivors struggling with the emotional toll of months of storm impact; Red Cross Community Partner Services and Red Cross caseworkers are working hard at connecting people with financial and other resources they need to regain their independence.

So, while the Stars of HOPE shine throughout Breezy Point, the Red Cross patiently continues its disaster response, made possible by the financial donations and volunteer generosity of the American people.

Photos: Flooding in Tennessee

May 3, 2010

Tennessee Floods May 2010

Red Cross Volunteer Mary Watson comforts Lamone Watts outside the Smyrna, TN shelter after her home was affected by the Middle Tennessee Floods.

Photo by: Beth Ferguson on Sunday May 2nd at the Smyrna Towne Center Red Cross Shelter in Smyrna, TN

Photos: Alabama Tornadoes

May 3, 2010

Alabama Tornadoes (April 2010)

Alabama Tornadoes (April 2010)

Alabama Tornadoes (April 2010)

Press Release: American Red Cross Responding to Statewide Storm Damage

May 3, 2010

Emotional Support Plus Disaster Relief Provided to Residents

LITTLE ROCK, May 1, 2010–American Red Cross Disaster teams are providing emergency disaster relief to communities around the state affected by last night’s destructive line of tornadoes and storms. Areas being responded to include, but are not limited to Beebe, Benton, Center Ridge, College Station, East End, Greers Ferry and Scotland. “We continue to field calls on damage reports as well as monitor the weather for the possibility of more storms moving through the area,” stated American Red Cross spokesperson Brigette Williams.

Red Cross mental health workers and nurses will make bereavement visits in response to the death of the Scotland resident, as well as check on the injured across the state as well as their families.  “Unfortunately this is very much like a Yazoo City (MS) déjà vu with small tight knit communities who know each other or of each other, so the anguish of loss is felt by all,” Stated Williams.  “This is where the special touches offered by our mental health workers and nurses are most appreciated by the affected families.”

Red Cross teams are conducting damage assessment to see what other specific disaster needs are called for, as damage can vary by area. In addition to conducting street by street damage reviews, Disaster Teams are equipped with tarps, work gloves, trash bags as well as snacks and water to provide immediate help to individuals working to clean up.

Disaster Teams have also identified areas in Osceola in eastern Arkansas flooding with water levels ranging from 2 inches to 2 feet.  “We will provide those residents with clean up kits,” Stated Williams.

“In response to Arkansans calls to help, we ask them to make a donation to 1-800-RedCross or go to where their contribution goes to provide disaster relief needed to help Arkansans after a disaster,” Explained Williams.  Arkansans are also encouraged to go to to review the emergency preparedness checklist for their individual preparedness for future disasters or emergencies that may occur.

Arkansans can keep updated on Red Cross work across the state on or on Red Cross of Greater Arkansas.

Press Release: Volunteers out in Full Force Helping People Impacted by Tornados

May 3, 2010

Guntersville, AL April 30, 2010 – More than 230 trained Red Cross workers are out in full force helping people impacted by tornados that devastated parts of the state including Marshall, Dekalb, and Madison Counties on April 24. The Red Cross is there to meet the immediate emergency needs of disaster victims whenever they strike.

Four mass mobile feeding vehicles are canvassing neighborhoods delivering warm meals and water. One more is en route.

Client caseworkers are going door-to-door meeting with clients and listening to their stories.

“Disasters are devastating,” said Charlotte Simpson, Red Cross Casework Expert. “Red Cross caseworkers are there with a hug and offer the hope people need right now.”

Caseworkers discuss steps in getting on the road to recovery and provide referrals to other agencies that can also help them along the way. Emotional counselors and nurses are with caseworkers in the field adding more layers of support.

Since tornados ripped through the state, Red Cross opened three shelters with 80 overnight stays. One shelter located at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, 201 Rose Road, in Albertville, remains open. A feeding operation is also underway at Mt. Calvary Church.

The Red Cross has also provided more than 8,500 meals with the help of our Southern Baptist partners and support and donations from local businesses.

Individuals in need of Red Cross assistance can call 1-866-GET-INFO (1-866-438-4636).

On the Scene: Yazoo City Tornado

April 29, 2010

Yazoo CIty Tornado

Katrina Fennell says she is thankful for the night she and her 9-year-old daughter Lily spent in a Red Cross shelter in Yazoo City.  The shelter is located about 4 miles from their home that was destroyed by a tornado, but that’s not all they lost in the storm.  Their uncle, 48- year-old Carlton Gould was killed when high winds tossed him while inside of his camper trailer home.

Thanks to a phone call warning Fennell to leave, she escaped with ten children.  She recalls seeing from the rear view mirror of her car the debris flying around as she sped away.

“I think that was when the tornado hit” she said, “it was around ten minutes after the call.”

She went to another family member’s home for safety and that evening to the Red Cross shelter.  There was plenty of food, water, and a snack for the Fennell’s when they arrived. Red Cross workers even had books and games for Lily. She and her mother smiled. Lily’s was the biggest.

“This is good for tonight, thank you,” said Fennell referring to cots the family pulled together to get some rest.


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