The following message is from Gail McGovern, President and CEO, American Red Cross:
It is an honor to thank you for all you have done since Superstorm Sandy hit nearly a year ago, leading to the largest Red Cross U.S. relief operation in more than five years. This storm struck an area that is not frequently targeted by tropical systems, wreaking havoc across an enormous area and catching many people off guard.
As you know, this was no ordinary disaster. The storm damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, flooded large, heavily populated areas in New Jersey and New York, and knocked out power to millions. Just days after the hurricane hit, a nor’easter brought snow and freezing temperatures to the same area, making an already bad situation worse.
The Red Cross was there from the beginning, providing all the critical services we are known for: opening shelters for thousands of people, providing millions of meals and snacks, and offering health services and emotional support during a highly stressful time.
In addition to the many Red Cross staff who were working from afar to support the relief operation, thousands of you — the majority volunteers — traveled from across the country to New Jersey and New York, working for weeks at a time to deliver much-needed help. Many of you also set aside your own lives and schedules to help distribute meals on Thanksgiving, and to bring holiday cheer to residents still reeling from this disaster in December. And so many Red Cross employees and volunteers, in communities across the nation, picked up the slack to absorb the work of those deployed to help in Sandy relief.
Words can’t quite express how impressed I am with your tireless work and your commitment to getting help to the people who need it, no matter what challenges arise. I am so proud of you all — not only for your work in the immediate aftermath, but also for committing that same level of care and attention to the ongoing recovery.
Over the past year, we have put together multiple reports to help inform the public of how their money was spent on the relief operation and recovery. As the anniversary approaches, more materials are available for your use, including a one-year donor stewardship report, talking points, FAQ, and video.
Just a few days ago, a woman from Island Park, N.Y., sent an email to the Red Cross with words of thanks. It warmed my heart and should remind us all that behind all of the numbers of shelters, food, support and other assistance are individual people who found us there for them when they needed us the most. Her email reads:
The weeks following Hurricane Sandy were horrific. We lost our home, jobs, cars, belonging, almost everything. We were trying to tear down our home which was hard as it was getting colder and everything was wet. No electricity. It was such a blessing to have the red cross there with warm meals. They tasted like Heaven to us. They were there for so many weeks too. I can’t thank you enough for that. So needed support. We had a place to stay but food was minimal. Its hard to stay with people and ask them to feed your whole family too, including dogs and cats. Your trucks were definitely a blessing sent from Heaven, thank you. Almost a year later and I still feel the overwhelming feeling of you guys being there for us. Thank you, God bless you tremendously.
As you look back on last October and the months that followed, I hope you take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments and the accomplishments of your colleagues. No one can say the last year has been easy, but anything worth doing — especially anything extraordinary — never is. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.