.- Catholic Charities affiliates are continuing to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as another storm heads for the region.
“While the storm has passed, the aftermath continues as thousands are still without power, communities face the risk of floods, and those living on the margins of society struggle to stay afloat,” Catholic Charities USA President Father Larry Snyder told CNA Nov. 6.
Kevin Hickey, Executive Director at Catholic Charities of Camden, N.J., echoed Fr. Snyder.
“Ever since Sandy hit, it’s been very cold here,” Hickey said on Nov. 6. “You can imagine folks without power. There’s some real suffering going on.”
He said that New Jersey has made “pretty good strides” in restoring power but “has a ways to go.”
Another storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to pass by New Jersey Nov. 7, bringing high wind, coastal flooding, rain and snow.
“We’re hoping that it blows further out to sea, but I gather that is not going to happen,” Hickey said.
“We’re used to Nor’easters. Clearly, this is a different issue for us given the storm we’ve just been through and the expected tidal surge.”
Hurricane Sandy’s Oct. 29 landfall killed over 110 people in the U.S. and caused more than $50 billion in damage.
Hickey said the storm caused “horrific destruction” in Newark.
Catholic Charities of Camden has opened two disaster aid distribution points on the grounds of Catholic parishes, which have provided over 1,100 people with food, water, water filters and cleaning supplies. However, the agency has decided to close the sites Nov. 7 because the incoming storm threatens to produce high winds and heavy rains.
Outside the Catholic Charities office in Atlantic City on Nov. 5 “the line was stretched around the block” for people seeking emergency supplies, Hickey reported.
Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden has announced that the diocese’s churches will take a second collection this Sunday, Nov. 11, for the Catholic Charities agency. Some of the funds will go towards emergency relief, while a significant amount will go to long-term recovery.
Hickey estimated that the Camden agency’s direct emergency relief response will last 7-10 days and consist mainly of distribution of relief supplies in partnership with Catholic Charities USA. Long-term recovery efforts to assist those who have lost their jobs or their homes will last about a year.
He asked for prayers for all those affected.
In New York, Catholic Charities is operating emergency shelters and distributing emergency food.
The national agency has relationships with the Red Cross, Feed the Children and the Salvation Army. Catholic Charities agencies are also partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fr. Snyder said that Catholic Charities has “an incredible network of service providers across the country” that supports those on living on the margins “every day.”
He said these agencies are “trusted in their communities” and understand their populations’ needs, allowing them to quickly assess the situation in times of disaster.
Donations for the relief efforts can be made at the Catholic Charities USA website www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.