NEW YORK/PRNewswire—USNewswire — Six months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the northeastern United States, washing over coastal barrier islands and causing an estimated $50 billion in wind and flood damage, the Episcopal dioceses of Easton, MD; New Jersey; Newark; New York; and Long Island are continuing to aid impacted communities and facilitate recovery efforts.
Episcopal Relief & Development is currently supporting the work of disaster recovery coordinators in the dioceses of Easton, New Jersey and New York, and has helped establish a regional hub for volunteer coordination that will connect mission teams with projects in all impacted dioceses. These coordinators are working with Episcopal congregations, ecumenical and community-based groups and a range of government agencies to assess needs and organize response activities.
“The Episcopal response to Hurricane Sandy has been huge and heartfelt,” said Katie Mears , Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of US Disaster Preparedness and Response. “Congregations in the impacted areas mobilized immediately to provide essential relief to people and families in need, and now we are working with dioceses to further equip them to drive recovery and continue reaching out to vulnerable people in their communities.”
While relief activities still continue in some locations, the recent focus of diocesan response to Sandy has been on strengthening capacity at regional and congregational levels to engage in rebuilding and other recovery activities. The diocesan disaster recovery coordinators are charged with organizing and directing volunteers, and helping to develop ministries that will serve communities long after hurricane recovery is complete.
New Jersey disaster recovery coordinator Keith Adams is looking at storm response as an opportunity for the Episcopal Church to grow in service and in community. “Every day in New Jersey is a disaster for someone, and this storm is how the Church remembered it has responsibility for everyday vulnerable people. People are stepping up, being called to do more,” he said.
Adams recounted how St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Keansburg opened its parish hall the day after the storm so volunteers could make sandwiches and offer food in spite of the power being out. Now, St. Mark’s serves 125 people with two meals a day, and has connected with New Jersey Hope and Healing, an organization that provides social workers, mental health services, crisis counseling and nurse visits.
In Staten Island, the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s disaster recovery coordinator, Darrell Hayes , is also focusing on building relationships with impacted community members and organizations to build homes for the most vulnerable residents impacted by the storm. Coordinating with case managers from a Lutheran organization active in Staten Island, Hayes finds work sites that require insulation, sheetrock, plastering or painting, and then matches volunteer teams with those skills.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program offers resources for preparedness planning, which can be downloaded for free from the organization’s website. The program has also published tips and how-tos for disaster response ministries, and offers support through the Partners in Response team and Diocesan Disaster Coordinators.
To volunteer for Hurricane Sandy response work in Easton, New Jersey or New York, please visit the regional volunteer page.