Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Year After Sandy: AmeriCorps NCCC is Dedicated to Rebuilding the Northeast

From Serve.gov, Greg Tucker remembers the destruction from the massive storm and the equally massive recovery by AmeriCorps NCCC teams from across the country.

CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer and an AmeriCorps member observe the damage of a 150-year-old home in Union Beach, NJ after Hurricane Sandy
An AmeriCorps member and CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer look at a 150-year-old home in Union Beach, NJ, that was cut in half by Hurricane Sandy.

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake across six states, doing the most damage in heavily populated areas of New Jersey and New York. The recovery that followed – and even continues to this day -- required a massive response and thousands of national service members joined their fellow Americans to answer the call for help.

Sandy led to 160 deaths, making it the deadliest hurricane to hit the United States since Katrina in 2005. Beyond those gruesome numbers were the $65 billion in property damage, not to mention the emotional toll the storm took on the survivors left to pick up the pieces of their destroyed homes, scattered memories, and shattered lives.

While no program can replace these losses, national service members, affiliates, and volunteers joined others from around the nation to help residents throughout the recovery process.

FEMA Corps members register survivors after Hurricane Sandy at a Disaster Recovery Center in New Jersey
Brick, N.J., Nov. 5, 2012 -- FEMA Corps members help survivors of Hurricane Sandy begin the process of registering for disaster assistance at this Disaster Recovery Center. Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

Immediately after the storm AmeriCorps members from around the country, including newly formed FEMA Corps units, mobilized to the northeastern United States to put boots on the ground and provide assistance to begin the relief effort as soon as possible. Additional national service members deployed to help with shelter operations, manage volunteer reception centers, staff call centers, and support emergency food pantries to the storm’s survivors.

When cleanup efforts were allowed to begin, crews from across the country came to the East Coast to begin the hard work that needed to be done, helping residents muck and gut more than 3,700 homes damaged by the storm’s wind and flood waters. AmeriCorps VISTAs continue to serve local groups to build their capacity as they work to help residents get the information they need to rebuild and work through the recovery process. And AmeriCorps crews even worked at iconic landmarks, removing trash and storm debris from Ellis and Liberty islands to ensure that the Statue of Liberty could reopen in time for this summer’s 4th of July celebrations.
AmeriCorps NCCC members clean up debris after hurricane sandy
Union Beach, N.J., Nov. 14, 2012 -- AmeriCorps NCCC members help homeowners clear debris after Hurricane Sandy flooded their homes with four feet of water. FEMA is working with state and local officials to assist residents who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

All told, more than 3,800 Corporation for National and Community Service participants served in six states during the Hurricane Sandy recovery. Our members worked with national and local relief agencies to leverage the services of more than 30,000 volunteers who contributed millions of dollars in assistance. This service will continue as we honor our commitment to the recovery in New Jersey and New York as AmeriCorps members continue to serve in the hardest-hit areas.
Video of FEMA Corps members work to rebuild after hurricane sandy
Check out this video about FEMA Corps' impact on Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery.
And this work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I will tell you from traveling the state that what AmeriCorps volunteers did was not just the work that needed to be done -- and is still being done by AmeriCorps volunteers to get people back in their homes,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service earlier this year. “… AmeriCorps volunteers lifted the spirits of the people of our state.”

Brought to you by AmeriCorps NCCC, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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