TRENTON — In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, volunteer groups from around the nation came to New Jersey to help. Six months later, the response phase of the disaster is over, but volunteers remain an important part of the recovery effort. And they are here for the long term.
A coalition of volunteer organizations, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), has been working with federal, state and local agencies to provide a wide range of services to New Jerseyans as they move forward with their recovery.
FEMA supports their efforts by identifying populations with access and functional needs, identifying available federal assistance programs and providing coordination and donations management. Together, the agencies form a Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG). FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons work with the voluntary groups at the state and local levels and also refer people to the LTRG for help with specific needs
The voluntary organizations’ work includes helping with flood debris cleanup as well as home repairs and reconstruction, providing short-term food, clothing and shelter assistance, and counseling services.
In Wall Township, volunteers from the North Carolina Baptist Men with specific skills in mold remediation are removing mold in flood-damaged homes.
Volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization with services worldwide, are putting up sheetrock and performing other rebuilding tasks for homeowners in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
“There’s some great work going on there,” said NJ VOAD Chair Cathy McCann of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
McCann said there are presently 14 LTRG agencies working on recovery projects in New Jersey.
Other local and national VOAD organizations active in the continuing recovery include: the American Red Cross, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Church World Service, World Renew, UMCOR (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.
A broad range of help is available from many agencies, McCann said. She recommends that New Jersey Sandy survivors visit www.nj211.org see how they can locate the help they need.
“Our entire resource guide is on 2-1-1,” McCann said. “2-1-1 can direct requests to the right people.”
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