Will help Sandy recovery program
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The American Red Cross in Greater New York, in an outdoor ceremony at Borough Hall Plaza on Wednesday, presented a $1.25 million grant to the Brooklyn Community Foundation to support long-term recovery efforts for people affected by Superstorm Sandy.
In particular, the grant is earmarked for recovery and rebuilding assistance in five Boroklynneighborhoods: Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, Canarsie and Sheepshead Bay. Representatives of community groups from those areas played a prominent part in the ceremony.
Also present were Marilyn Gelber, head of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, and Rick Russo, senior vice president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and the Borough President’s Office are partners in the foundation’s Brooklyn Recovery Fund, specifically formed to help Sandy victims.
Borough President Marty Markowitz paid tribute to the volunteer spirit of Brooklynites. In the first few days after the superstorm, he said, more than 1,000 individual Brooklyn residents delivered food, water and clothing. Some of them climbed 18 or 19 stories to help housing project residents who were without water or electricity.
Josh Lockhart, regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York, said the Red Cross has been helping Sandy victims since the immediate aftermath of the storm, when it delivered 17 million meals and snacks. It has raised $302 million for storm victims, he said, of which $102 million has been spent.
He made it clear that the Red Cross would be on the ground for some time in the affected areas. Five years after Hurricane Katrina and three years after the Haiti Earthquake, he said, people in those areas still need help.
Judi Orlando of Astella Development, representing Coney Island, said, “Eighty percent of the stores on Mermaid Avenue have now reopened.” She urged visitors to go shopping as well as to go visit the beach and the amusement area.
Nick Cuartallo of Gerritsen Beach Sandy Relief said his organization has surveyed 650 families in the area, and many are still suffering because their houses are inundated by mold. His group, he says, has given away more than 80 household appliances and a large amount of building supplies to homeowners.
While several people at the press conference questioned why it took the Red Cross until now, more than a half a year after the hurricane, to give such a grant to the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Lockhart said that the Red Cross has been “continuously cutting checks” for victims. Gelber, a veteran in the philanthropy field, said that the needs of victims keep changing and keep evolving, and it would have been bad practice to give out all the money at once.