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To all those affected by Hurricane Sandy, my heart goes out to you and I wish you all the best for a speedy recovery. I thought I’d share some information that may help those in need, after last week’s devastating storm.
1. New Jersey State Health and Information Care Hotline – Dial 211 on your phone
This morning AARP left a recorded message on my phone stating that you could dial 211 for assistance. I did, just to see what they offer, so I could share it with you. Once you get through to 211, if you’re a New Jersey resident, you can get help with any of the following:
– To report someone you haven’t heard from since the storm – press 31
– To donate food assistance – press 39
– For Hurricane Sandy concerns or shelter needs – press 40
– For public health concerns, water safety or clean-up info – press 41. (NOTE – As of this writing, Nov. 7, 2012 I’m aware that at least in the Middlesex County area, the tap water may be unsafe for drinking – and must be boiled before drinking as a precautionary measure. Perhaps other areas may be likewise affected too. A PDF article explaining the water safety concerns after a hurricane, what to do, and how to check on your local status can be found here.)
– To volunteer your help – press 42
– To speak to a specialist in health and human services – press 21
– Addictions hotline – press 22
– If you’re homeless – press 23
– Help paying utility bills – press 24
2. FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency – http://www.fema.gov/sandy
FEMA has established the above website just for Hurricane Sandy resources, complete with links for applying for assistance, how to donate, rumor control, and more.
While I saw a local article stating that many claims are being denied or are slow to be processed, I personally know someone who lost their rental home to Sandy, and they have already been helped by FEMA with a $2800 check to get temporary housing – no repayment required, as he tells me. Apparently FEMA agents are working on a hierarchy of needs – first getting people into temporary housing, and moving forward from there. See the article link for more info. The same individual also received an immediate, on-the-spot, no-questions-asked $1000 check from his insurance agency, to get him started while his claim was being processed.
3. Local Stores Offering Heat, Electrical Device Charging, Free Wi-Fi
If your home is still without power, internet, email access, etc. many local stores and businesses have opened up their doors to the public to offer free services.
In my neighborhood, a HUGE thank you to Shoprite – who re-opened quickly, brought in fresh food and bottled water as quickly as possible, and offered their wi-fi connections at no charge. Plus they’re open 24-hrs. a day – a great help for those without power, allowing us to stay warm. (Sorry to all their employees who had to come to work – but thank you for doing so!!) (According to their website, all local Shoprite stores, with the exception of Hoboken have reopened as of Nov. 5 – Hoboken sustained major damage and is expected to remain closed for a while. (I like that Shoprite added a web page specifically to update area residents about store status- and to take the time to thank their “dedicated associates for all of their efforts, from our warehouses, to transportation, to our stores.”)
And likewise a HUGE thank you to Target and their employees. Target additionally put out charging station multi-tap outlets so we could refresh the charge on our cell phones, plug in our laptops, and use their free wi-fi connection. Plus my local Target store had just remodeled and had opened a Starbucks Café in-store, so that warm food and drink were available. (I actually saw a team of FEMA reps in their café, who were recharging their computers, and assisting customers who happened to notice them sitting there.) Target didn’t care if we camped out all day without buying a thing – and some people even brought their own chairs and plopped themselves down in remote corners of the store. Now that’s community service. Hooray to Target. They have always had my business because of their low-prices, (made even lower now that I finally signed up for their Target charge card, that offers 5% back on everything I buy there), and they’ve made me a loyal fan, for life.
I’m sure there are many more stories about local businesses helping their community. Hopefully you have found a local resource providing the same assistance, if needed.
4. Donations to Help Those Affected
To see heartbreaking, interactive before-and-after photos of the local devastation, see this online article, posted by Michael Corones of the MercuryNews.com
Of course there are many places to donate – but here are two I trust in. (Particularly The Salvation Army – who has a very high percentage of their collected funds going back to the community…)
– The Salvation Army – online donation form: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/disaster or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
– The American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They also offer a free Hurricane App for Android and Apple mobile devices that I recently wrote about – see this posting for details.
I’m sure there are many other resources available, but in the interest of getting this info out to you, I’ll stop here. My very best wishes to all of you. If you have other resources to add, please comment below.