Volunteers Continue To Provide Post-Sandy Help [AUDIO]
It's been nearly seven months since Sandy devastated the New Jersey coast and while the response phase of the disaster is over, thousands of volunteers remain and they're here for the long term.
A coalition of volunteer organizations known as the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD, has been working to provide a wide range of services in New Jersey. The Federal Emergency Management Agency supports the volunteers by identifying available federal assistance programs and providing coordination and donations management.
Together, the agencies form a Long-Term Recovery Group, or LTRG.
"We have volunteers who are doing mold remediation, clean outs. Some people still haven't had their homes cleaned out. They are rebuilding, repairing and doing whatever is needed," said New Jersey VOAD Chair Cathy McCann of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. "The volunteers have been active and many are scheduling all throughout the summer into the fall. Some of them are committed to coming back again next year. This will be a very long term recovery."
So far, more than on million hours of volunteer time have been logged and only about ten percent of the groups have logged their hours. There are currently 14 Long Term Recovery Groups working on projects.
"We have conference calls on a weekly basis where volunteers can talk to coordinate and collaborate to find out what is needed where," said McCann.
Among the local and national VOAD organizations active in the continuing recovery are: the American Red Cross, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Church World Service, World Renew, UMCOR, or United Methodist Church Mormon Helping Hands, Operation Hope, United Church of Christ, Catholic Charities, NECHAMA Jewish Response, ICNA Muslim Humanity Rebuilding Together, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Services, the Salvation Army, certain United Way organizations as well as faith-based volunteers from numerous other denominations, individual churches, synagogues and mosques.
An important component to the recovery is emotional and spiritual support. "That's a real concern for these communities and the volunteers and the caregivers too because this is tough work, especially for those living in the affected areas," said McCann.