CONNECTICUT - It is hard to believe, but it was just a year ago that Superstorm Sandy came ashore and devastated the New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut shorelines. Here at The Salvation Army… we remember! Our Emergency Disaster Canteens began serving first responders and victims during and immediately after the storm. In Connecticut the Army helped 17,000 people, by providing meals, drinks, snacks, hygiene kits, clothing, and gift cards. It is frequently said, which cannot be truer for this disaster, “The Salvation Army is the first to arrive and the last to leave.”
A year later, The Salvation Army’s Southern New England Division still has a presence in the storm-ravaged areas of Connecticut, now as long-term providers! According to FEMA and the State of Connecticut, there is an unmet need estimated at $23,192,867 and we are working to help the victims that are still hurting today. There are 532 homes that were substantially damaged and 1,700 houses suffered repetitive damage due to Tropical Storm Irene, Superstorm Sandy, and the February 2013 Blizzard. With high property costs and extensive damage along the Connecticut shore, about 150 families are expected to exhaust their FEMA funds by the end of November.
“Many residents are expected to lack the necessary funds to complete repairs on their homes,” says Brenda Downing, The Salvation Army’s Social Services Director. “There are many ways that the Army is helping. We have four full-time Disaster Case Managers – two in Milford, one in Bridgeport, and one in Norwalk. They are all monitored by a Disaster Case Management Supervisor, who is overseeing and directing their efforts.”
The Army is helping qualified applicants with everyday expenses, such as clothing, groceries, hotel stays, storage, and property taxes. In other cases, we are helping with rental assistance, with permits and engineering work, and especially with mold remediation. We are actively coming alongside residents, rebuilding their lives in hope of returning to some sense of normalcy. The funds to support this long-term recovery effort come from donors like you. The Salvation Army could not do this work without the support of generous people like you. Your support allows us to help people like Saul and Patricia Englander. Please allow us to share with you their story.
MILFORD - It was home for 43 years, but when the winds of Superstorm Sandy died down, Saul and Pat’s home on the Connecticut coastline had been whisked away, leaving the couple, now in their early 80’s, with a challenge in their golden years that they did not anticipate.
Saul served in the military for six years and is a Korean War Veteran. He and Pat raised six children and were used to responding to life’s challenges, so when they saw the news reports of a super storm coming up the East Coast from their daughter’s home in Florida last October, they rushed home to batten down the hatches and secure their property in hopes to salvage all that they had just finished restoring after Hurricane Irene. However, their efforts would be in vain.
Saul and Pat’s home was devastated by the storm, along with the home they owned next door. That was especially difficult for Saul, who had done all of the renovation work that both homes required when they bought the “fixer uppers” years ago. Years of sweat equity and the tender loving care they devoted to their treasures were gone. “It’s a little tough for me to find a job at 82,” Saul joked, “But there are no retirement funds for us, no 401K. We planned on the rental income.”
Pat, perhaps one of the most positive people you will ever meet, took on the task of pursuing claims with the insurance companies and FEMA right after the storm. She continues her efforts today, but they have been plagued with difficulty and frustration. Although she is not going to give up, it has been a long haul.
This past summer, a friend of Pat’s from North Carolina told her to seek out the help of The Salvation Army. Her friend had watched the Army do some fantastic work for storm victims there. Shortly thereafter, Pat made a visit to The Salvation Army’s Disaster Case Manager, Stella, in Milford, CT, and “a relationship that has delivered in every possible way” ensued.
“Stella, Pam, and everyone I’ve come into contact with at The Salvation Army have been outstanding. Instead of getting a phone menu of options to go through, I get a real person every time I call. We actually had a conversation with Stella, a meaningful heart-to-heart at a time when we just didn’t know what to do next. She kept asking questions until she understood all of our needs. She works well with the bureaucracy in the system and is always very comforting and responsive. I can’t tell you how much it means to have someone listen and do what she says she will do.”
The Salvation Army helps the couple with the cost of prescription medicine, electricity, and other utilities costs. “Every little penny helps when your income has been taken away. We used to be the people who sent in a donation and now, here we are, receiving,” Pat said.
One year later, the future is still very uncertain for Saul and Pat, but with the help and caring support of The Salvation Army, they feel like they are not walking this road alone. “The Salvation Army has been a true friend to us at a time when we needed it most and we will never forget what the good people who support the work of The Salvation Army have made possible for us. Please tell them we said thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Better yet, have anyone who wants to know how much The Salvation Army has helped us call me. I’d be happy to share it all with them!” Pat said.