Catholic Charities receives grant for hurricane relief

Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden will receive a $800,648 grant from Catholic Charities USA, to aid the diocesan organization in helping those affected by last fall’s Hurricane Sandy.

In October 2012, the super-storm Hurricane Sandy knocked out power and flooded large portions of the New Jersey-New York coast, toppling trees and destroying many homes and businesses.

According to a report from The Associated Press, the storm caused about $62 billion in damage and other losses in the U.S. — primarily in New York and New Jersey — making it the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As of March 5, more than 258,000 families have applied for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance in New Jersey. The number of applications from two counties in the Diocese of Camden, Atlantic and Cape May, represent more than 5 percent of the total populations of each county.

Since the storm’s landfall, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden has been working with local partners, sister agencies throughout the state, and Catholic Charities USA to respond compassionately to those affected.

Current long-term recovery efforts are a follow up to the immediate assistance Catholic Charities provided in the storm’s aftermath.

Five days after Sandy’s impact, Catholic Charities opened distribution centers at Notre Dame de la Mer in North Wildwood, and at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Northfield, to provide much-needed supplies to 15,000 individuals. Remaining open for 19 consecutive days, the centers also gave Catholic Charities the opportunity to assess on-going needs, and almost 400 volunteers distributed 136,000 pounds of goods directly to individuals, and into impacted communities.

Today, more than 25 percent of the 679 families in FEMA’s transitional shelter program are from Cape May and Atlantic counties.

“When Superstorm Sandy turned the lives of so many in New Jersey upside down, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Camden was a vital source of immediate help and hope to those without food or shelter due to the storm,” said Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.

“Long-term recovery efforts are now underway, and thanks to the tremendous generosity of thousands of donors from across our nation, Catholic Charities USA is able to award disaster recovery grants to agencies impacted by the fury of Sandy,” Father Snyder said. “We are proud to be able to support Catholic Charities of Camden and all of our agencies in severely afflicted areas in their continued great work of helping families and communities strengthen and rebuild in the wake of disaster.”

Long-term recovery efforts for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden include helping families with financial assistance; helping families return home or find affordable housing; and, through social media and community meetings, being a source of effective communication for victims.

Catholic Charities also promotes  the church’s social teaching and provides volunteer opportunities.

“One of the wonderful aspects to working in Catholic Charities is the opportunity to see how many different people and organizations come together on behalf of a common goal,” said Kevin Hickey, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden.

“I think our immediate response to Hurricane Sandy, and now the long-term recovery work, are examples of many people, staff and parishioners, and organizations coming together to respond,” he said. “We are especially grateful to Catholic Charities USA for this grant, as well as their assistance in helping us develop our disaster response programs. The reason we have been able to comprehensively respond to the effects of Hurricane Sandy is because of the training and real-time disaster response experiences we have received through our partners at Catholic Charities USA.”

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