Over 100 people died in the United States from Hurricane Sandy. Particularly hard hit was the New York City area, which suffered devastating damage on Oct. 29, from wind, flooding and fire.
Tragic stories of people who lost everything in the storm are too numerous to recount, but included such events as the death of two young brothers, Brandon and Connor Moore, ages 2 and 4, who were swept away from the arms of their mother as she fled floodwaters in New York’s Staten Island borough to seek safety with family in Brooklyn, and a fire in Breezy Point, Queens, that left 111 homes burned to the ground, and 20 more heavily damaged. Breezy Point is a beachfront neighborhood heavily populated by firefighters and police officers that lost 37 residents on 9/11, and within months witnessed further loss of life when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in close-by Bell Harbor.
After the storm, images of a darkened lower Manhattan skyline were haunting as power was cut in and around the city to more than 750,000 people. Thousands of people were homeless, and many of those whose homes survived had no power to store food or generate heat. Gas for generators and transportation was in critically short supply.
Hurricane Sandy was followed by a nor’easter that dumped snow and brought frigid temperatures to people struggling without power. Traffic lights were out, subways were out of commission and streets were flooded. But the city that demonstrated its tenacity and perseverance after 9/11 once again began to pull itself together. The New York Stock Exchange opened on Oct. 31, without a hitch after a historic two-day shutdown.
Somehow, tragedy seems to bring out the best in the human spirit. Numerous individuals and organizations have donated their time and resources to help people affected by this storm to begin the slow process of recovery. In particular, thanks to public support, the Red Cross has been able to provide food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Its work includes:
• serving more than 8.2 million meals and snacks in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention;
• providing over 80,000 shelter stays;.
• handing out more than 6.2 million relief items, including cold weather items and clean-up supplies;
• providing more than 94,000 health services and emotional support contacts for people who have been living in very difficult conditions; and
• mobilizing more than 15,300 trained workers, about 90 percent of whom are volunteers, to help people affected by Sandy.
However, hundreds of people in New York are still unable to return home, or have returned to neighborhoods where massive clean-up efforts are under way. The Red Cross continues to provide food and relief supplies. Hundreds are still spending the night in shelters.
More than 2,200 Red Cross workers are still supporting shelters, providing food and water at fixed sites, and driving through neighborhoods to distribute meals and supplies. The Red Cross is working with communities to identify ongoing needs and public support is still vital to help the people affected by this storm.
This year GRAWA partnered with two of its sister bar associations, the Central New York Women’s Bar Association and the Western New York Women’s Bar Association, to collect donations for the American Red Cross at our respective holiday gatherings to help our fellow New Yorkers in need. The Monroe County Bar Association also supported our efforts by generously welcoming GRAWA to seek contributions at its annual Bench and Bar event.
As always, I was overwhelmed by the generosity and support of our community. We are very fortunate to have organizations like the American Red Cross that specialize in assisting people in crisis.
Although GRAWA’s individual holiday collection has passed, donations to the American Red Cross can be made throughout the year by visiting www.redcross.org/charitable-donations, calling call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS (all one word) to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Kimberly Duguay is the 30th president of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys and an appellate attorney at the Monroe County Public Defender Office, where she practices in the areas of criminal and family law.