Homeowners Can’t Go It Alone: Cooperative Clean up, Coordinated Efforts

Nowhere is the need for team work and coordinated volunteer efforts more apparent than in the weeks following hurricane Sandy, as homeowners take their first steps to clean up their homes in preparation for rebuilding.  No homeowner can go it alone with such a daunting task.  For some residents hardest hit by Sandy, their immediate needs remain basic necessities like heat, food, clothing, and water.  For others, they have taken their first steps to look at reclaiming their homes.  World Cares Center and our main partners including, AmeriCares, Brooklyn Brewery, Calvary Presbyterian Church, and Turner Construction work on multiple levels to address these needs.  Our lifeblood for getting the job done: volunteer teams, networks of community organizations, and individual efforts. 

We’re currently undertaking two large-scale initiatives:  “Operation Winter Warmth” and “Operation Muck Out”, joint projects between WCC and AmeriCares. “Operation Winter Warmth” distributes sleeping bags to those still without the basic necessities of electricity and heat, especially seniors and those with mobility issues.  “Operation Muck Out” coordinates and trains teams of volunteers to clean up homes by removing water and debris to actively prevent the build-up of mold. 

On Tuesday, November 13th, WCC worked with AmeriCares, Brooklyn Brewery, and Calvary Presbyterian Church to distribute sleeping bags in Staten Island.  Our local volunteers in Staten Island worked hard to identify individuals who were still without power by canvassing neighborhoods and reaching out to residents.  Many of those residents, including seniors, continue to need family support and community resources to keep safe and warm.  Calvary Church has generously allowed us to use their church as a command center for Staten Island relief efforts.  Ready responders receive volunteer trainings in this neighborhood location, making for an efficient coordination and supply distribution process. 

On Friday, November 16th, we will continue with “Operation Winter Warmth” for a second day of sleeping bag distribution, focusing on hard-hit areas of Staten Island like Tottenville and New Dorp. 

At the same time, WCC has been working in the Rockaways on the Muck Out of homes.  Muck out is a crucial first step for rebuilding.  A complete Muck Out includes:

  • A home assessment
  •  Removal of all items soaked by flood waters
  • Removal of Sheetrock 12” above the flood line
  • Removal of insulation
  • Spraying exposed surfaces with a bleach solution to inhibit toxic mold growth

Inhibiting the growth of mold (a fungus), is crucial to prevent the hazards of mold exposure, including allergic reactions, respiratory effects, dermatitis, and the spread of infections. Once debris and the threat of mold growth are dealt with, homeowners can start rebuilding and repairing.

Last Sunday, November 11th, with the help of AmeriCares, Brooklyn Brewery, Turner Construction, and “From Brooklyn With Love,” we cleaned up 20 homes and 1 church with a group of over 70 volunteers.  These muck out services are continuing to grow exponentially.  On November 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, and then again on December 1st, we will triple our volunteer numbers and return to the Rockaways for Muck Outs.  We estimate over 200 volunteers for these days.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit our website at: www.worldcares.org to fill out an individual volunteer application.  Homeowners wanting Muck Out assistance should first request it by calling 311.  WCC and other organizations coordinate Muck Outs with the city to identify homeowners in need of our services.

New Jersey Recovery

Most of us find that Hurricane Irene happened a long time ago, but the truth is that there are still homeowners who are recovering from the effects of the August storm. As you know, World Cares Center (WCC) has taken on a major role in the relief efforts in New Jersey. Between coordinating more than 1,100 homeowners in need and 25 partner nonprofits and faith-based organizations, WCC currently goes into the field, making direct contact with the residents in need and assessing their home situations. Recently, our Leading & Managing program manager went together with a member of Burlington CERT to assess four homes in Northern New Jersey. After a thorough evaluation, the report on the assessment will be presented in the next Long Term Recovery meeting. Based on needs, available resources, and manpower, the homeowners will be receiving appropriate assistance. 

 

Each one of the 1,122 homeowners who called into WCC, have their own story of woe and perseverance. Cases range from elderly single women to families, to teens with recent surgery, and they all need our help to clean up their homes. In working with our wonderful partners, WCC helped to successfully respond to more than half of the initial requests. Some of their homes presented straightforward recovery solutions and their needs received prompt assistance. Other cases were more complicated and evolved over months of continued coordination and follow through. As we move forward with the rebuilding phase, we are looking ahead to a two-year recovery for the residents of New Jersey.

 

If you want to get involved and be part of this important work, please visit our website at www.worldcares.org and volunteer with us. Stay tuned for more stories to come!