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Red Cross releases storm progress report amid criticism

A Red Cross van drops off supplies at Beach 113th Street. The organization recently released a progress report detailing its storm recovery efforts. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

The American Red Cross, which has come under fire from residents and Queens politicians for what they say was a slow and inadequate response to Hurricane Sandy, issued a progress report Tuesday that detailed its activities in the three months after the storm.

The organization said it has distributed more than 2 million meals and snacks and more than a million relief supplies to residents in Queens as well as provided hurricane victims with thousands of mental health and health services contacts through Jan. 28.

It also said it is continuing to deliver meals, provide resources to people making building repairs or seeking alternate housing and guide hurricane victims through the recovery process in Queens.

“Lives have been forever changed by Superstorm Sandy and many are still doing what they can to make it through each day,” said American Red Cross Greater New York Region CEO Josh Lockwood.

“We will bounce back from this disaster together, in large part due to the generosity of the public and the tremendous dedication of our volunteers,” he said.

Many people blasted the Red Cross in the days following the storm, saying the organization was nowhere to be seen in the worst-hit neighborhoods during the immediate aftermath.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said at an oversight hearing investigating the city’s response to Hurricane Sandy in mid-January that she wanted to have a follow-up conversation with the Red Cross regarding its storm efforts.

“The Red Cross was a severe disappointment,” she said.

But moving forward the Red Cross said it is working closely with the government on long-term recovery efforts.

In the next several months, it said, it will be working one-on-one with families on helping them navigate the recovery process, including assisting them with understanding insurance paperwork or finding child care.

It has also raised more than $254 million in donations and pledges for Sandy relief, of which $145 million will be spent or committed by the end of January. The remaining donations will go to helping storm victims with long-term needs.

“This is a large amount of money to be spent in such a short period of time, but as has been seen in other disasters, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Lockwood. “However long it takes, the Red Cross is committed that money donated for Sandy will stay in those communities to help the people affected by this disaster.”

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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