It was late October 2012, and a hurricane was bearing down on the East Coast of the United States. Only fourteen months earlier, Hurricane Irene had slammed into the region and then weakened to a tropical storm; so many people were hopeful that they would be spared during Hurricane Sandy too. But this time, Mother Nature’s punch would be far worse than most had imagined…
Category 2 Hurricane Sandy slammed across the Northeast on October 29th, 2012. It was the largest Atlantic hurricane in history. Countless communities in coastal New Jersey and New York were damaged. Record-high flooding on streets, subways and tunnels crippled New York City’s mass transit.
Mother nature makes no distinction in gender, ethnic background, nor to the rich and poor. People lost everything.
“We watched as the water rose and the water rose over the cars. Honestly I thought we were going to die, I thought we're gonna die.”
– Affected Resident
Tzu Chi immediately mobilized its volunteers, who gathered the goodwill of people from around the world, then entered disaster areas in the early hours to provide care, comfort, soup and blankets well into the cold nights.
Between November 10th, 2012 and mid-March, Tzu Chi held almost 40 large scale relief distributions. Almost 60,000 Sandy survivors were assisted within those four months.
“We have each other and we’re all alive. And to have people like you to help. God bless you.”
— George Hollis, Resident of Hamilton Beach
EMERGENCY CASH CARDS
In order to supply victims of Hurricane Sandy with emergency aid, debit cards were distributed for immediate needs. Tzu Chi volunteers worked in collaboration with local authorities to ensure that this aid was distributed in the communities that needed it most. Each family was eligible to claim up to two debit cards, a total value of $600.
Soups, coffee, and tea were served at hard-hit areas, such as Broad Channel and Staten Island, immediately following the storm.
3,972 packs of Tzu Chi Jing Si Rice were also distributed. Jing Si Rice, developed in Taiwan especially for disaster relief use, can cook in 40-50 minutes using room temperature water.
ECO-FRIENDLY BLANKETS, SCARVES AND SHAWLS
Each blanket is made from 70 recycled plastic bottles, reducing 1,764 g of CO2 output, and 6,201 ml of water. Each scarf is made from 5 recycled plastic bottles, and each shawl from 25 recycled bottles. A total of 9,555 blankets, 7,852 scarves, and 308 shawls were distributed during this time.
The financial aid Tzu Chi Foundation provides is collected from small donations from all over the world. The organization was established with the philosophy that drops of water can accumulate into an ocean. We hope to continue this spirit by encouraging everyone to put away a few cents a day for good deeds.
Shortly after, many recipients returned the bamboo banks full, knowing their love and care will be able to reach more people in need.
Besides material goods, volunteers provided comfort and care to aid recipients.And when presenting relief goods to Sandy’s survivors, volunteers would bow to show their sincere thanks for the opportunity to serve.
“All the funds we give come from individual contributions. Tzu Chi initiated a street fundraising campaign in over 189 locations around the United States…”
— George Chang, Tzu Chi Northeast Region CEO
Tzu Chi USA’s volunteers would go on to distribute 10 million dollars in immediate cash relief to families in distress because of Hurricane Sandy. This large-scale operation was made possible through the generosity of caring Americans and people from over 30 different countries. Tzu Chi didn’t stop there, but reached even deeper into the communities affected by the disaster to offer aid - because sometimes, some people can get left behind…