Time to heal

By Brian Bloom
Regional Manager

Only now are their cries being recognized. Only now are we beginning to understand the true devastation of Sandy.
Experts believe it will go down as the third most destructive hurricane in our nation’s history. One hundred ten have died along the east coast, 67 more in the Caribbean, two in Canada. One and a half million remain without power as this is written, 900,000 of those in storm-struck New Jersey. More than 10,000 have lost their homes – the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Millington.
Cars, boats and houses tangle New Jersey coastline cities.
Temperatures drop to freezing at night. There is little food, few supplies and a plethora of paperwork for a people not used to going without.
Gas lines snake around city blocks as people attempt to fuel generators to maintain the bare necessities. It’s too cliché to call it third-worldly as that stretches the concern yet we would be guilty of ignorance if we failed to recognize the extent of the destruction.
It won’t compare to Katrina – a storm with mind-boggling statistics of 1,836 killed and an estimated $200 billion dollars in recovery. Then again, every storm is unique, every geography having its own considerations.
I got to see Katrina up close and personal.
As a member of a church-affiliated relief effort, I and a dozen other Colorado-based missionaries assisted the recovery effort four-months after the storm had passed. The damage boggled the imagination.
Blue tarps dotted the landscape dozens of miles inland from our Biloxi destination. There were houses without roofs and roofs without houses. More than 100 days after the September storm, people remained in a daze. Supplies were difficult to acquire or not available at all but everywhere, from the rise of the morning sun to its set, the sound of hammers and drills sang the melody of recovery.
Our brethren in the northeast will have their own tales to tell.
There will be stories of New Jersey shore plastering the walls of homes miles inland. There will be cries of assistance, screams of being forgotten but, most of all, tears of remembrance.
Today I urge you all to offer forth your assistance as they offered theirs to us along the gulf.
From the department of Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) here’s how you can help.
Cash is the most efficient method of donating. Cash offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. Remember, unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. In addition to the national members, each state has its own list of voluntary organizations active in disasters. If you’d like to donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Sandy, these organizations are the best place to start.
Give blood. Numerous blood drives have been canceled as a result of the storm and the Red Cross has a need for blood donations. To schedule a blood donation or for more information about giving blood or platelets, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Affiliate with existing non-profit organizations before coming to the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.
Be patient. Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster – especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.