NEW YORK (ANS) -- In the wake of the landfall Monday night of Hurricane Sandy, authorities estimated that 2.8 million people in New York were without power and that the massive storm could affect more than 60 million people along the East Coast.
As hundreds of thousands of East Coast residents evacuated to seek shelter from Hurricane Sandy, the Christian humanitarian relief organization World Vision scaled up its emergency response to provide immediate relief supplies to families and children impacted by the storm.
Three rapid assessment teams will deploy in New York, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia this week while additional staff will remain on standby to begin distributing emergency supplies to the hardest-hit areas.
World Vision staff evacuated as rising flood waters threatened pre-positioned relief supplies and the World Vision team in the greater New York area.
Hundreds of relief supplies are currently en route from World Vision's National Domestic Disaster Headquarters in North Texas to field sites in New York City and Washington, D.C.
On Monday, World Vision's staff at the organization's New York City site in the Bronx were forced to evacuate after rising flood waters from the East River that threatened to close nearby bridges and leave World Vision staff stranded and unable to respond. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 pre-positioned relief supplies at the New York City field site have been elevated to higher ground within World Vision's warehouse to avoid water damage.
"It's not ideal, but we felt it was necessary to evacuate our staff and seek shelter closer to Manhattan so we wouldn't be stranded ourselves," said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's domestic disaster director. "We unplugged electrical equipment and put all the relief supplies up higher, but we're not sure when our response teams will be able to access the site if the river continues to rise."
World Vision has additional relief supplies strategically positioned at its Washington, D.C., site and at the National Domestic Disaster Headquarters in North Texas. On Monday, several hundred blankets and emergency kits were sent from the North Texas site to arrive this week at World Vision's sites along the East Coast.
World Vision's pre-positioned relief supplies include emergency food kits, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, blankets and tarps. This year, World Vision has responded to several U.S. disasters, including Hurricane Isaac, wildfires in Oklahoma and tornadoes in Texas.
In 2011, World Vision responded to six disasters in the United States, benefiting nearly 40,000 people. In 2005, World Vision responded to Hurricane Katrina by opening a temporary 40,000-square-foot distribution center in New Orleans, where $8.2 million in goods were distributed to more than 318,000 survivors. Freeman, a veteran aid worker, was among those with World Vision called upon to respond and says the organization's strategy to build a Domestic Disaster Headquarters in the Dallas area near the Gulf Coast was a direct result of the lessons learned from Katrina.
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. World Vision serves the world's poor regardless of a person's religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information please visit www.worldvision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @worldvisionnews.
For more information about World Vision's U.S. disaster response work, visit www.worldvision.org.
Text "GIVEUSA" to 777444 to make a $10 donation to World Vision's disaster response or online at www.worldvision.org/americanfamilies.
Michael Ireland is an Internet journalist who has served as chief correspondent and senior international correspondent for ASSIST News Service since 1998. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China and Russia.
Publication date: October 30, 2012