10 Ways You Can Help After Hurricane Sandy

| October 30, 2012 | 6 Comments

Watching the massive damage from Hurricane Sandy across the Eastern United States on The Weather Channel brings to mind another fulfilling way to Travel with Purpose.  Disaster relief is not a comfy or glamorous vacation, but a challenging and crucial service that can save lives and help bring a ravaged area back to some normalcy.

My family lived through the 6.9 magnitude Northridge Earthquake in 1994, so I know first hand what it’s like to go several days without power, potable water and heat.  We had property and structural damage to our home as well.  While we were blessed that we had no physical injuries, it was still extremely unsettling and took more than a year before our lives were truly back to normal.

Hurricane Sandy by Juju Chang

An uprooted tree cracks through sidewalk on 90th street in Manhattan. by Juju Chang

What we didn’t have to deal with that the folks in the Eastern US are seeing now is damage from rain, flooding, snow, cold, wind, etc.  Having a power outage in a snowstorm when the temperatures are below freezing is much more serious than in sunny California.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who will be shoveling debris, digging mud out of their homes, looking for healthy drinking water and trying to find a hot meal.  The nightmare of trying to drive to work or the store through flooded streets, downed trees and power lines can be difficult, if not dangerous.  Then, after the worst seems to be over, the realization of the true recovery time will take hold for those that have physical damage to their homes and businesses.  Repairs could take months.  Or for those who have lost loved ones in the storm.  Their lives are changed forever.

So what can you do?  How can you help?  Here are just a few ways you can go as a volunteer or begin to train for future disaster recovery assistance:

  1. Volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse: All skill levels are needed. Meals and sleeping quarters are provided. Volunteers will assist with debris clean up and mud outs.Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Youth under 18 years old must comply with their youth policy. Samaritan’s Purse is a faith-based organization.  You can find out more about their mission and vision here.
  2. Register here with the Hands On Network for upcoming opportunities to volunteer in the path left behind by Hurricane Sandy. Click on “Action Center Updates” for a list of locations.
  3. AllForGood.com lists volunteer needs around the U.S. and already has listings for help after Sandy.
  4. Check on the Volunteer Center of United Way for current needs.  You’ll need to have the zip code of the area where you’d like to serve to enter in the search field.

    Hurricane Sandy - Four Mile Run creek and flooded trail

    Hurricane Sandy – Four Mile Run Creek, Arlington County, VA by Mrs. Gemstone

  5. Become an American Red Cross Spontaneous Volunteer by contacting Leslie R. Fletcher, Director of Volunteer Administration, at leslie.fletcher@redcross.org or (215) 405-8558 or (267) 246-4521. Please do not let paperwork stand in your way, as volunteers may get involved for 7 days before completing the background check completely.  Red Cross Disaster Services – Disaster volunteers can become members of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) and respond to local disasters (fires, floods, storms, etc.). There are many specialized positions available, such as client case work, mental health services, shelter operations, mass care, and more. Experienced DAT volunteers can also become national volunteers who are deployed for 2-3 weeks when major disasters strike in the United States.  Classroom training required – Commitment: as needed OR on call one week per month
  6. Volunteer with the Salvation Army Disaster Services –  Training is available to equip you to help in a variety of ways from food service to Social Services
  7. Feeding America – Disaster Response Volunteers – are needed across the country to support the network’s commitment to the survivors of disaster-affected communities.  You can help out in your local community through activities such as sorting, boxing and repackaging donated food to be directed where it’s needed most.  Addressing the needs of displaced survivors will be critical over the next several months.
  8. Join and train for an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force in your area.  These teams are comprised of firefighters, engineers, medical professionals, canine/handler teams and emergency managers with special training in urban search-and-rescue environments that serve as a national resource for disaster response.
  9. Check out National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) for links to other organizations that are coordinating disaster relief.
  10. Of course, if you don’t have the time or flexibility to travel to the disaster and provide hands-on assistance, you can always donate financially to reputable organizations.  Don’t be deceived by emotional pleas for funds in the coming days and weeks. Here’s more information on how to confirm that a non-profit is legitimate.

Have you survived a disaster?  What was the most surprising part of the experience?  What aspect were you unprepared for?  How have you helped others after a disaster?

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Category: 1 - 9 Days, 30 - 60 Days, All Year, Disaster Recovery, Fall, Humanitarian Aid, Regions, Service-Oriented Travel, Spring, Summer, United States, Urban Search and Rescue, Winter

Comments (6)

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