Hurricane Sandy: Assisting survivors in New Jersey
Although always devastating, at least hurricanes usually hit in summer, bringing warm air behind them not cold, as Hurricane Sandy did. In the Northeast, that means tens of thousands of people freezing cold in homes still without lights or heat, and thousands more seeking refuge in shelters.
Franklin Township, N.J. food bank executive director Frank Hasner hands a CWS Blanket to Lavilla Thompson, whose family's electrical service is intermittent in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. "This will help keep my kids warm," Thompson said. Photo: CWS
For the latest updates, visit our Hurricane Sandy emergency information page.
By Carol Fouke/CWS
Hillside, N.J. – Although always devastating, at least hurricanes usually hit in summer, bringing warm air behind them – not cold, as Hurricane Sandy did. In the Northeast, that means tens of thousands of people freezing cold in homes still without lights or heat, and thousands more seeking refuge in shelters.
Adding insult to injury, an approaching "Nor'easter" will bring high winds, rain and even snow to an already battered region. That means even more people cold – and an even greater need for blankets.
And CWS blankets – along with school, baby, personal hygiene and cleanup kits – are already comforting Sandy survivors. In New Jersey, the state hardest hit by last week's super storm, CWS partner Community FoodBank of New Jersey, based in Hillside, N.J., is getting these critical supplies out to the most vulnerable through its network of shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries in 18 of New Jersey's 21 counties.
Relationships with partners are key, as it is partners who have an intimate knowledge of the communities they serve. A case in point, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and its network of nonprofit agencies touch an estimated 900,000 people a month – people who already find themselves in a daily personal state of emergency, out of food because they are out of work, or whose jobs don't pay enough to cover their most basic needs.
To help, the food bank trucks out 100,000 pounds of food a day across the state. From its base in a densely populated, high poverty area on the edge of Newark, N.J., the bank also has several other programs – most notably serving children with food, new clothing, and school supplies.
"CWS is proud to partner with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey," said CWS President and CEO John L. McCullough – a New Jersey resident and frequent volunteer at the food bank. For example, the Monday (Nov. 5) following Sandy found McCullough organizing shelves of food for distribution.
McCullough said, "We know the Community FoodBank of New Jersey has relationships with local hunger and poverty fighting organizations that know the pockets of need. The bank shares CWS's commitment to seek out and assist the most vulnerable, those at risk of being overlooked or forgotten in an emergency."
Cathy McCann is the food bank's vice president for operations, and also chairs the New Jersey state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster network – putting her in a particularly good position to field and respond to needs all across the state – the state hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
"The people we serve already are in distress every day, struggling day to day," McCann said. Already dependent on food pantries, many didn't have a three-day reserve of food before the storm. Many lost a week's wages because their places of employment were closed all last week, or they couldn't get to work because there was no public transportation, or gas for the car. Some were forced from their homes by last year's Hurricane Irene and haven't been able to rebuild yet.
"Now this storm comes on top of that," McCann said, forcing 10,000 residents of New Jersey into shelters. "Many fear they will be forgotten."
Layer on days without electricity and heat as nighttime temperatures descend close to freezing, houses and apartments suffering flood and wind damage, and the new storm threatening more high winds, rain and even snow.
"There is a great need for blankets. CWS has been a great partner. In the wake of Sandy, it quickly got us blankets, hygiene kits, school kits to help children's return to school, baby kits and cleanup buckets," McCann said.
McCann praised CWS's commitment to long-term recovery, commenting that Hurricane Sandy "is going to affect people for a long, long time. It's the biggest thing we have had in the state." McCann added that while a lot of attention is going to New Jersey's coastal communities, people in the state's urban areas also suffered a lot.
CWS Disaster Response Specialists work closely with state, regional and local VOADS, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, CWS member denominations and other agencies to map out where churches are responding and where help is most needed.
CWS has supplied the Community FoodBank of New Jersey with an initial:
How to help:
DONATE NOW: Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (REF: HURRICANE SANDY APPEAL, U.S., #627-W).