Superstorm Sandy Response

United States

As the last remnants of Hurricane Sandy have moved out of the Northeast, the response continues.

At its peak, the storm was more than 1,000 miles wide at its peak and affected the following states: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Thousands are reported to have sought refuge in shelters, dozens were killed, and the property damage is massive.

Sandy's most severe impact appears to be in the state of New Jersey and in New York City, where the center of the storm made landfall.  While it will be some time yet before damage assessments are complete extensive damage from flood waters occurred across the nation's largest city in most of its five boroughs. In the Breezy Point section of Queens, more than 100 homes burned when gas from ruptured lines ignited. Firefighters were unable to reach the homes due to floodwaters.

Progress is being made as limited bus and subway operations are being restored. Power is slowly returning to some neighborhoods, though hundreds of thousands are still without power.  A Wednesday evening northeaster is expected to hit the coast, putting the already battered region in harms’ way again.

Elsewhere, Sandy flooded 400 homes in North Carolina. In Ohio, there is flooding along the Cuyahoga, Chagrin and Grand Rivers near Cleveland.  In West Virginia, homes have been destroyed when roofs collapsed due to more than 24 inches of snow falling and communities are now bracing for the flooding that will result when the snow melts. All across the northeast homes have been destroyed and damaged by fallen trees. 

Week of Compassion has been in touch with regional ministries in affected areas, has distributed solidarity grants to many affected churches and households, and continues to collect information about needs.   Our partners at Church World Service have dispatched Disaster Response Specialists to work with state, regional and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. CWS is providing material resources, including blankets, hygiene kits, school kits, baby kits and clean-up buckets to local agencies in four states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

CONCERNING CLEAN UP BUCKETS: CWS appreciates efforts by supporters to help restock our warehouses with material goods, such as CWS blankets, Clean Up Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits and School Kits. Information on various kits that can be compiled and donated to CWS can be found here.


Sandy also caused significant damage in the Caribbean.  In Cuba, 11 died, and more than 188,000 homes were damaged. The eastern city of Santiago de Cuba was particularly devastated. A total of 343,230 people in Cuba were evacuated, the ACT Alliance reported.  Our long-time partner, the Cuban Council of Churches, is currently conducting damage assessments in affected areas. The response will include emergency relief to 360 families initially with food and water, and then supporting 1,000 families with psycho-social activities, shelter (reconstruction) and livelihood restoration.  CWS is also providing the CCC with a shipment of material goods that was in process before the hurricane.

In Haiti, Sandy caused more damage than the earlier Hurricane Isaac. Devastating flooding affected northwest Haiti, where we have supported the work of agricultural cooperatives. Severe flooding from Sandy in Haiti has damaged and blocked infrastructure/roads, damaged/destroyed houses, caused loss of livestock and severe damage to agricultural fields, according to ACT Alliance reports.

The latest disaster puts additional pressure on a country still recovering from the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Food security was already highly threatened by the damage caused by Isaac in August. Livelihoods in highly vulnerable rural areas have been lost, and the affected communities have limited capacity to recover without external support. We will be supporting recovery efforts of the Christian Center for Integrated Development, a  partner known by the Haitian Creole acronym SKDE, in northwest Haiti, site of agricultural cooperatives long supported with emergency and development assistance. Initial reports say the co-operatives were severely damaged, with loss of buildings, gardens and livestock, SKDE reports. "These represent the bank account (or wealth) of the poorest," said the Rev. Herode Guillomettre, who heads SKDE.

ACT Alliance and Church World Service are providing emergency family food packages and water provision.  To support the recovery of communities from Maine to Haiti, please remember to PRAY, PAY, and STAY.   At this point, you can best reach out in Courageous Compassion by donating here. Gifts to this recovery are already in action.  We are responding!

Solidarity from Christchurch, NZ

We received the following note in the days following Sandy’s landfall from one of our cousin” churches in Christchurch, New Zealand, whom WoC supported after the devastating earthquake there:

On behalf of the Parish of Linwood Avenue Union Church (Christchurch, New Zealand) I'd like to pass on to you our thoughts and prayers. We have seen reports on the news about the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy on the east coast of the USA. While this gives us a picture, it is hard to imagine the full impact of the crisis and issues now being faced. If we can assist in any way, please let us know.

We have been the recipients of very generous donations from 'The Disciples of Christ' and others which has helped to boost us (and our community) in many ways following our experiences of surviving three major earthquakes. The aftershocks have continued and vary in size (the smaller the better). Plus we were encouraged by the prayers and thoughts expressed by many Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world..

Rev Darryn Hickling
Linwood Avenue Union Church
Christchurch, NZ

Thanks be to God for the kindness, graciousness, and hope that your generosity creates.  You are a movement of compassion amidst so many storms.

To God be the glory.

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
New York, hurricane damage recovery (7)
New Jersey, hurricane damage recovery (4)

Development and Long-Term Recovery
DR Congo, health education
Kenya, school safe zones
Middle East, education, advocacy, training and empowerment of minorities, women, and youth Pakistan, peace education for primary and middle school children
Republic of Congo, women’s livelihoods
Republic of Georgia, vocational education and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth
Serbia, education for Roma street children
Serbia, empowerment for Roma women