“This week, we have been humbled by nature’s destructive power. But we’ve been inspired as well.” President Barack Obama
I want to thank everyone for their prayers, concern and support for the thousands of people whose lives were affected by Hurricane Sandy, including members of the National Urban League family who work out of our corporate headquarters in lower Manhattan. As you have seen in the media, areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been completely devastated by this superstorm. More than 100 lives have been lost and as of this writing, more than a million people remain without power, including Urban League affiliates in Long Island, NY; Bergen County, NJ; and Jersey City, NJ.
While we are grateful that all the members of our staff have been accounted for and are doing well under the circumstances, our offices at 120 Wall Street are currently inoperable due to utility interruptions. We do not know how long we will be displaced, but we are now operating out of a temporary location in Midtown New York and we are mobilizing our resources to assist our neighbors as best we can.
State, local and federal officials are making progress in getting the region back to normal, but entire families have lost homes. Many are in dire need of food and other basics. The New York Urban League at 204 West 136th Street is accepting donations of clothing, toiletries, batteries and bottled water for distribution on Staten Island. Donations will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
I also want to remind everyone that safety is a primary issue when you're recovering from a disaster especially one as devastating as Hurricane Sandy.
Follow these tips to help ensure your safety and cope with the disaster. If you aren't able to return home, states, tribes, localities, and the Red Cross continue to operate emergency shelters along the East Coast.
Here's how to find shelter:
· Monitor conditions in your area; find shelter; and let others know you are safe, with the Red Cross Hurricane App.
· Download the FEMA app to find a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
· Call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
· Search for shelters via text message: text: SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). For example: Shelter 01234 (standard rates apply).
· Check local news media outlets.
Here's additional information that may assist you and your family recover from Hurricane Sandy:
· FEMA's Hurricane Sandy website
· For disaster assistance: 1-800-621-FEMA or www.disasterassistance.gov
· Filing a flood insurance claim
· Volunteering and donating
· Recovering from a disaster
Finally, I want to thank all the government officials, relief organizations and volunteers who have responded to this crisis. And I want to commend those who have been affected for your faith in a better tomorrow and your determination to rebuild. As President Obama reminded us, “We’re Americans. When times are tough, we’re tougher. We put others first. We go that extra mile. We open our hearts and our homes to one another, as one American family.”
Marc Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League.