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Aid groups seeking funds to assist Superstorm Sandy victims

November 08, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Volunteer Karina Ayubi and National Guardsman Brandon Kyle distribute blankets donated by the American Red Cross to residents without power in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in Little Ferry, N.J.
Volunteer Karina Ayubi and National Guardsman Brandon Kyle distribute… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)

As a nor’easter brings winds, waves and snow to areas of coastal New Jersey and outer boroughs of New York City hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, private aid agencies are racing to raise money and provide services for people in the region.

The needs are vast. At least 277,000 people in the area have registered for some form of federal help, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Not in the Northeast to lend aid in person, but still want to help? Here’s some things you can do:

FULL COVERAGE: East Coast hit by deadly storm

Donate or volunteer with the American Red Cross. “They can certainly make a financial donation; that’s the fastest way for us to get relief to people who need it quickly,” said Anne Marrie Borrego, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. Those interested can call (800) RED-CROSS, or (800) 733-2767, to donate; go online at redcross.org; or text the American Red Cross at 90999.

A common refrain among organizers after a disaster’s initial impact is that they often don’t need food, clothes or water, but that they always need money. Needs can change on an hourly basis, and money gives organizers more flexibility in figuring out how best to respond.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has established the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund for aid efforts. Donations can be made on its website.

Borrego says residents outside the Northeast can also donate blood or volunteer with their local centers. Though volunteers may not be able to aid Sandy victims directly, they may learn skills that might come in handy when the next disaster hits.

Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street and other activist groups, also has been a steady on-the-ground relief presence for many recovering residents, with aid stations all over New York City. The group's website lists the locations and regularly updates specific supply needs.

WYNC Radio in New York has also been maintaining a comprehensive list of aid groups and relief efforts through the area.

As always, the disaster has brought out an array of faith-based groups to help  with the recovery. Hope for New York, a Christian aid group, suggested donors send socks and hygiene kits. But once more, a common denominator crops up: Aid groups need money to do their jobs.

“Because we do have individuals right there on the ground doing work, obviously those efforts need to be supported financially,” said Derrick Lea, director of Islamic Relief USA’s disaster assistance response team, which expects to work with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Islamic Relief USA plans to stay working in the area for months, Lea said, and recently signed up 400 volunteers in the Northeast to work in the hardest-hit areas.

INTERACTIVE: Before and after Sandy

The LGBT community in New York also needs help. The Ali Forney Center lost a drop-in center for homeless LGBT youths in Chelsea. The founder, Carl Siciliano, said Wednesday that donations have now hit $200,000 but that the damage and cost of moving into a new location is expected to reach half a million dollars.

The Ali Forney Center has received a lot of attention in recent days, but the Bailey House in the East Village, which housed and cared for 44 homeless New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS, also reported serious losses and is accepting online donations.

“We’ve still got a ways to go,” Siciliano said. “I feel like there were two floods we’re dealing with, with the first flood being Sandy and the water; the second flood is the flood of support and concern and generosity that are coming our way, and I’m really grateful for that.”

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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