2 minute read

Superstorm Sandy: How Can I Help?

Hurricane Sandy - Staten Island 2012
Red Crosser, Paul Nolte, in an Emergency Response Vehicle provides a meal for Staten Islander, Nancy Giammarino, with a smile.

I AM the Red Cross in my community and yours. Together we are working to provide disaster relief for people affected by what is being called one of the largest disasters in the history of the United States, Hurricane Sandy. The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Part of my role as a Communicator for the Red Cross is to monitor social media and be a source of information for people. As I watch the tweets and listen to the incoming calls from the Volunteer call center across the room, I see and hear so many people who want to physically help or who want to donate items. The compassion for their neighbors makes me proud to be part of the response in this community. It’s amazing to see! It’s also very hard to tell people that they need to contact the correct agencies before they just make that donation or jump in a car and drive the few miles over to help. I would never for a minute want to sound ungrateful for the outpouring of help that is incoming during a time of need. So here is my answer to the question I have seen at least once a day and heard too many times to count.

Why can’t I help?

You can. The need is not going to end this week, next week, or even next month. The need won’t even end this year. I speak not only to this disaster, but to others as well. You can help and all it takes is being prepared and being patient. I have a badge with an ID number that says I have been through training to become a Red Cross Disaster Responder. Classes are held on a regular basis all over the country so that when a disaster occurs, Red Cross is ready to deploy. Currently there are over 3000 Volunteers working on the relief efforts across several states. These people are trained to be first on scene and set up shelters. There is a very specific set of needs that are met by The Red Cross, as you can see on the American Red Cross website. If you are trained, you will be called based on your skill set, matching you with the needs to be met. I encourage you all to contact your local chapter and find out how you can become Red Cross trained!

So if you are not affiliated with an agency currently and you want to help, here is where the patience comes in. Speaking specifically to the need on the East Coast, this is going to be a long term recovery project. The communities will still need you next week or the week after. The agencies that organize the help can be found online and those agencies are asking that you contact them and wait to be called. One of the best resources I have found is from FEMA (http://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly) it is really easy to understand.

Do not be discouraged if you don’t get a call right away. There will be plenty to do. In the meantime if you are willing and able to do one thing, make a donation. Find a legitimate source to give even $10.00 and know that you helped make a difference. Visit www.redcross.org to donate to disaster relief with the American Red Cross, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to the number 90999.

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  1. Hello. I was at the Pemberton NJ site yesterday and they said they were in great need of a number of items- I have been collecting from friends and heading down there tomorrow, but I heard that many people are being told there is no longer a need for these things at other sites. I have called and tried to get through, but cannot leave a message since the inboxes are filled. Is there any way you can tell me if this site still needs baby items- if so I am going to head down tomorrow morning- if not I will just drop off at a more local pick up site.

    Please let me know if there is any way I can find out before I make the trek down there.

  2. I too would like to organize a fundraising effort in my neighborhood for supplies. Many of these people it seem have nothing left (clothes, food, bedding etc…). As many homes are completely gone or everything is water logged and covered in dirt, sand and sewage. Is there a need for us to collect clothing, baby supplies, bedding items and bring it to one of the shelters?

  3. The relief of Sandy is going to take a while. I appreciate this post in order to clam others that this is not a rush, they will be needing out help for a LONG time.

  4. Hi, I’m hoping maybe someone will read this and be able to help me out.
    I’ve been trying to find help for Christmas gifts for my 2 grandchildren. So far I have no extra money to buy them anything for Christmas and since hurricane Sandy my daughter hasn’t worked. I know there is many families worse off than ours but my heart breaks thinking my grandchildren won’t have anything for Christmas morning. I’m out of work but I’m applying for jobs all the time but so far I haven’t had luck. I went to so many websites for help, Toys for tots, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and others but they aren’t accepting any more families. I’d love to get their names added to an angel tree but I have no idea where any are and how to go about it.
    I live in Roselle, NJ. If you know of any place that might be able to help me please let me know.
    Thank you so much.