Catholic Charities Executive Director Marianne Majewski announced Monday that their Hurricane Sandy efforts have resulted in more than $144,000 dollars in direct aid to victims in the central New Jersey area.
“In less then two months we have been able to assemble a team of experienced disaster specialist, gather resources, identify needs, and provide direct aid. The challenges have been daunting but we are committed to meeting the needs,” Majewski said.
She explained that in the past eight weeks, their efforts have impacted nearly 2,000 people in need in the region.
At their weekly meeting held in New Brunswick on New Year’s Eve day, the Hurricane Sandy team updated her on the group's efforts through the holidays. The team, comprised of volunteers, paid staff, employees, church leaders, and civic minded college graduates, has worked tirelessly to meet the ever changing needs.
“Originally many aid agencies came to help with cleanup, but there are long term problems that need to be met from housing to financial concerns. Our goal is to provide for their immediate needs and continue to assist with case managers, social workers and support staff,” said Monsignor Joseph Kerrigan, one of the team members.
In order to meet the needs, the team sent out representatives to each community to work with elected leaders and faith groups to identify the problems. Team members went door to door in some areas to better understand the problem.
“Even though each of these communities was impacted by the same storm, their needs are different. The issues are different depending if you are in Sayreville, South River, Laurence Harbor, South Amboy or one of the other communities,” Monsignor Kerrigan said.
The team met with dozens of representatives to identify how best to provide assistance in the different communities. One issue that came up time and again was the frustration of waiting. The team streamlined the aid process by setting up direct aid days where residents received immediate answers.
The team’s assessment forecasts an increase in needs and advocacy for those impacted by the storm. There have been a wide variety of needs to date. They have include replacing hot water heaters, rental vouchers, food, and financial assistance.
People will need help in rebuilding their homes and communities. In 2013, the financial pressures are going to continue to grow on the most vulnerable people impacted by the storm. Many of those impacted will need assistance with advocating the insurance process and finding permanent housing. The Catholic Charities Hurricane Sandy team is committed to meeting these challenges in the new year.
The majority of the funding for the recovery effort came from collections taken up at local churches - including St. Augustine’s of Kendall Park and St Cecilia’s of Monmouth Junction.