The Hurricane Irene Recovery Fund, managed by the United Way of New York State distributed $208,520 in grants and had $221,413 in requests for assistance, according to a United Way report released today. The money went toward cleanup of Irene, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached the state, and Tropical Storm Lee.
A total of 669 individuals and groups donated to the fund. Verizon donated $100,000 and New York State United Teachers and the New York State School Boards Association each gave $10,000. Local United Ways in the hardest hit areas raised an additional $1 million to help residents. The grants funded things such as heating system repair and replacement, housing repair, mold eradication, debris removal, financial support for housing asisstance, gas cards, clothing purchases.
Thirty-eight New York counties received federal designation as emergency disaster areas following the storms, which caused widespread power outages, damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure, severe water damage and major losses to homes and businesses, the report said. At the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the United Way set up the recovery fund in September 2011, and 100 percent of donations were dedicated to assisting people affected by the storms.
Challenges faced in the wake of the storms included a lack of adequate housing for displaced people, late arrival of case-management services, complex and duplicative aid processes, inadequate funding for long-term recovery and limited availability of local human-services agencies, the United Way found. The full cost of returning households to their pre-disaster condition is “staggering,” and there aren’t adequate resources in place for long-term recovery, the report said.
The group’s recommendations include simplifying the process for obtaining assistance, ensuring that case-management services and resources are available from Day One and stay in place until the job is done, building capacity for the long term, developing a strategy for fundraising and resources, establishing protocal that capitalizes on the immediate donor generosity and directs resources to where they are most needed.