Six Months After Sandy
May 6, 2013
It's been a bit more than six months since Hurricane Sandy stormed up the East Coast of the United States claiming 285 lives, wrecking thousands of homes and businesses, and disrupting commerce for weeks and months.
Much has been written about the challenges in responding to the storm, but relief agencies like the American Red Cross, United Way of New York, Robin Hood Foundation, and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City were on the scene as soon as practical, and many of them remain there today.
According to a report recently issued by the American Red Cross, in the days and weeks following the destruction, the organization launched relief efforts in 12 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and mobilized more than 17,000 relief workers – 90 percent of whom were volunteers.
The Red Cross also:
- Activated more than 300 emergency response vehicles
- Provided more than 81,000 overnight stays in shelters
- Served more than 17 million meals and snacks
- Distributed more than 7 million relief items
- Provided nearly 113,000 health and mental health contacts
To date, the Red Cross has received approximately $302 million in donations for Sandy relief efforts. Almost 55 percent of those contributions came from individuals, approximately 35 percent from corporations and 10 percent from foundations.
Thus far, the Red Cross has spent – or has commitments to spend -- approximately $192 million in the following ways:
- Food and shelter -- $92.3 million (48.1%)
- Relief items -- $32.7 million (17.1%)
- Individual casework and assistance -- $31.0 million (16.2%)
- Housing and community assistance -- $22.7 million (11.8%)
- Disaster vehicles, equipment and warehousing -- $6.8 million (3.6%)
- Physical and mental health services -- $5.4 million (2.8%)
- Interagency coordination -- $785,000 (.4%)
According to Gail McGovern, president of the American Red Cross, the organization's goal is "to be outstanding stewards of our donors' generosity." "We will honor their requests to spend these gifts to help those affected by the storm." I applaud this kind of institutional transparency, which was sometimes lacking during previous Red Cross administrations.
In other Sandy-related news:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spent $2.5 billion in New York State. According to the Wall Street Journal (April 30, 2013), $1 billion of that support has gone directly to individuals and households, $847 million went to public assistance projects and $347 million supported other agencies that provided help, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In New Jersey, FEMA has disbursed $847 million to local governments and agencies.
Nearly $30 million in relief and recovery efforts has been committed by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, including:
- 333,000 hot meals distributed including over 5,000 whole Thanksgiving turkeys and side dishes
- 350,000 cleaning supplies, 300,000 personal toiletries, 300,000 bags of groceries, 350,000 articles of clothing, 30,000 batteries and 25,000 blankets distributed
- $15,000,000 committed to assisting small businesses and nonprofit organizations
The Robin Hood Foundation has allocated $70 million in grants to 400 different groups including 100 percent of the donations from the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief. 44 percent of these funds went to organizations in New Jersey, 38 percent to New York City, 16 percent to Long Island and the rest to recovery efforts in Connecticut.
United Way of New York recently announced $100,000 in grants to community-based organizations severely hit by Hurricane Sandy. 12 organizations received grants ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 to support each organization's recovery efforts in the wake of the storm.
Corporations contributed millions of dollars toward these – and many other -- relief and recovery efforts as part of their overall citizenship efforts. (American Express contributed $250,000 to the American Red Cross and $250,000 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City as part of our $1 million commitment to Sandy relief and recovery efforts.) The continuing need for accountability and transparency is driving many agencies and organizations to be more timely and detailed in their reporting on the impact of their activities. While there is much that still needs to be done, it's heartening to know that individuals, families, businesses and organizations impacted by Hurricane Sandy have seen much-needed support flowing their way.
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P.S. Did you know that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently said that President Obama has "kept every promise" that he had made to the people of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy?