Hurricane Sandy, now known as
Superstorm Sandy, hit New Jersey on October 29, 2012. What was at first a
tropical storm quickly escalated to a Category 2 hurricane. It is the largest
Atlantic hurricane on record and also one of the most destructive. Damage costs
are estimated to be in the billions.
Many people were left for
weeks without water or power, forcing them to leave their homes and find shelter
elsewhere simply to survive the freezing temperatures. Others stood in lines at schools to
charge their phone batteries. The majority of New Jersey’s gas stations had to
ration their supply and many people waited in long lines to fill up their cars.
New York City's subway system shut down, and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson train system
was suspended for ten days; it continues to be on a limited schedule. And over
200 people have been reported dead.
So, how has the relief effort
gone so far? Is enough being done for the people who have lost their homes and
their livelihood? Answers are not easily found to these questions; at best,
they are a mixture of positive, negative, and inconclusive.
There have been some
conflicting reports regarding the response of the Red Cross. According
to The Daily Beast, The Red Cross has rarely been seen, even though
they reportedly raised over $150 million for Sandy relief. Some eyewitnesses
have reported that where the Red Cross was, in fact, seen they lacked essential
supplies, such as water and blankets. The New York Times reported
growing frustration at the Red Cross’ lack of response. According to the
spokesmen for the Red Cross, dozens of trucks and converted ambulances were
provided to supply food and water, but other people helping with the relief
effort claimed that the Red Cross trucks were rarely sighted, if at all. Even the
Staten Island Borough President, James P. Molinaro, has been discouraging
people from donating to the Red Cross.
Another controversial effort has
been these tent communities. Originally intended to house utility workers
from out of state, several counties requested they also be used for hurricane
refugees. Unfortunately, instead of a warm bed to sleep in, as some were made
to believe, these monstrous tents felt
more like a prison. It took days for the massive tents to receive any heat,
and the residents were not given enough blankets to stay warm in the freezing
temperatures. Residents were also required to show ID wherever they went. Many
residents have questioned their safetywith the arrival of utility workers to
the tents, the ratio of men to women and children gave some cause for alarm.
These tents are a sad and dismal alternative for those who have lost power or
even their homes, but most of these people had no other choice. Of course,
government resources are limited and time is needed to provide proper temporary
housing for hundreds of displaced people. But why weren’t these ‘communities’
more prepared given that they received ample warning of the superstorm’s
What is more, hundreds of
utility workers from around the country and even Canada have made their way to
New York and New Jersey to help restore power to the thousands of families that
have lost power and/or running water. But some who have offered to help have
been turned away by the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers [IBEW] . Capable men and women who were ready
to offer a lending hand were told they could not help, because they were not
part of the union. Supposedly, the problem was that the utility workers were
not on the same pay scale as the union workers. But these people did not care
about money, they simply wanted to helpbut despite their protests, some were
delayed for days sifting through union paperwork.
There has been good news amid the chaos and frustration. Power has, fortunately, finally
been restored to several thousand homes, and progress is finally being made to
help those still without power. And organizations
like the Salvation Army have helped provide people with their most basic
needs, such as, water, batteries, coats, and blankets. Several Catholic
charities have also been providing relief through local parishes and millions
of dollars donated from around the country. But many people are still without
homes and daily necessities and these organizations still need your help.
You can give donations here
and here. Please continue to pray for
those still suffering from Hurricane Sandy and for those who have donated their
time and skills to help bring relief.