Tablet Special Sections

Diocesan Reaction to Sandy Was Immediate and Is Ongoing

When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New York region, areas of Brooklyn and Queens were deeply affected. From Breezy Point to Bayside and from Far Rockaway to Red Hook, with many areas in between, diocesan staff provided vital assistance to communities desperate to recover. Their reactions were immediate, and their efforts continue to this day.

As a result, to date, more than $25 million has been distributed to parishes, schools and individuals affected by the storm. What follows is an overview of some of the actions taken by diocesan officials at various agencies within the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens

1. Catholic Charities Diocesan Sandy Relief Fund
Sources of Funds: Diocesan Parish Collection; Catholic Charities; St. Vincent de Paul Society; miscellaneous donors.
Amount Disbursed to Date: $1,912,400 (of which $300,000 came from diocesan collection)
Number Helped: 3,825 households
Other Information: Funds were distributed through the 16 Sandy affected parishes in Brooklyn and Queens. The modality was gift cards in $500 units produced by TD Bank. Parishes received allotments of either $160,000 or $80,000, depending on intensity of need. Distribution to the parishes was completed by March 12, 2013 and all funds have been fully expended.

 2. Long Term Disaster Case Management Program
This program is through a subcontract with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and funded through New York State Office of Emergency Management. The contract is for 22 months and expected to end on Oct. 31, 2014. There are 17 case managers and two supervisors in addition to the Program Director. The case managers work with individuals and families in negotiating the various issues resulting from Sandy’s impact and connecting them to available resources. These include but are not limited to FEMA, insurance, employment, financial assistance to replace lost possessions, mold remediation, housing, etc.
Sources of Funds for Client Relief: New York Times Neediest Cases Sandy Relief Fund; Upstate Dioceses; AARP Grant; Catholic Charities USA; miscellaneous donors.
To date, $621,821 has been spent to directly assist 1,231 households.
In response to Requests for Proposal from Catholic Charities USA, CCBQ was awarded the following grants for the purpose of expanding services to Sandy survivors:
• $347,266 for Employment Services over a two-year period
• $601,214 (which originated from the USCCB) that will provide the capacity to extend disaster case management for an additional period. Assistance will be continued to those who have remaining Sandy-related needs past the original contract with the Archdiocese of NY

3. Project Hope
• Funded through NYC Department of Mental Hygiene, a team of seven counselors working with individuals and families around issues of emotional impact related to Superstorm Sandy.
• The contract for this program was completed in the mid-February 2014.
• The following are sample statistics at the end of the program:
– 3,105 individuals were present in group counseling sessions
– More than 670 individual counseling sessions, with 475 people affected by the Storm
– More than 150 educational presentations on resiliency building
– 3,029 children were present in resiliency building sessions

Futures in Education

• Shortly after the storm, Futures established its Relief Fund
• The Spirit of Christmas Concert at Carnegie Hall was shifted to focus solely on raising money for the Relief Fund
• Monies from the annual Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon were directed to the Relief Fund (held at Russo’s-on-the-Bay, Howard Beach, which was also affected)
• An appeal was made to donors throughout the diocese, who had already given generously to multiple causes during the year
• An appeal was made to alumni from several of the affected Catholic schools
• Visits to the affected areas
• Net proceeds from all appeals totaled over $1,200,000
• To date, the Fund has awarded:
– Approximately $1,200,000
– 518 families
– 845 students
– 42 Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens – Elementary and H.S.

Peter Turner Insurance Company

• In excess of 100 parishes of the Diocese of Brooklyn were impacted by Hurricane Sandy considered the costliest of US Natural disasters, the hurricane-turned-cyclone delivered a physical and economic punch to many of our parishes, parishioners, business’ and households throughout the Diocese. The Hurricane caused widespread power outages and a swath of massive flooding and wind related damages.
• The day after Hurricane Sandy – All parishes on the Rockaway Peninsula – St. Gertrude’s, St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. Rose of Lima, St. Camillus, St. Francis de Sales, and Blessed Trinity – were visited by the Director of Insurance. Water mitigation teams were immediately dispatched to address flooding at parish properties.
• Mechanical, electrical, roofing and restoration teams were dispatched to repair plumbing, heating (boilers), electricity, mold and asbestos remediation, and interior carpentry throughout the affected parishes. There were approximately 65 buildings that were damaged by the tidal surge and flooding including churches, convents, rectories, schools, parish halls, and gymnasiums.
• To date, approximately $15,600,000 has been spent in Insurance proceeds for the Post Hurricane Sandy Relief and reconstruction efforts of parish properties. An additional $1,600,000 is expected to be paid when all claims are finalized.
• The staffs of the Insurance Office and Rocklyn Asset Corporation collaborated to implement a coordinated disaster reporting and response framework to mitigate the potential threats Sandy presented on her way into the city during high tide. Those locations that experienced and reported damage within the first 12-24 hours of the storm were inspected and assigned resources to make repairs as quickly as possible. As a result, the overall interruption of church, educational and ministerial services was mitigated.

DeSales Media External Affairs

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) initiated a national collection to build up a fund to send money to those dioceses that had been affected by Superstorm Sandy. Such a collection was necessary because the federal government deems most religious properties, including houses of worship, rectories, convents, and the like, ineligible for FEMA public assistance on account of the separation of church and state. In the interest of fairness and to ensure that the collection monies would be sent where they were needed most, the USCCB’s Catholic Home Missions Subcommittee set up a competitive grant process and invited the affected dioceses to apply.

The Bishop’s Office asked the Department of External Affairs at DeSales Media to complete an application. The Diocese applied for both the May and December 2013 disbursements, receiving a total of $2,430,000. The funds enabled churches, rectories, convents and many other facilities to rebuild.

Now, External Affairs is leading the deployment of the DeSales Emergency Alert System to all diocesan elementary schools and academies.

With this emergency communications protocol in place, the Diocese of Brooklyn will be better prepared for the next major storm.

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