Helping Sandy Survivors: Guidelines for Donating Wisely
November 9, 2012
As recovery from Superstorm Sandy continues along the eastern seaboard, Mainers continue to look for ways to assist. "When Maine people see others in trouble, they want to help," MEMA Director Rob McAleer said.
McAleer said MEMA is recommending Mainers start at: http://www.serve.gov/sandy to learn how best to help as recovery continues. This authorized site contains links to make cash donations, to find volunteer opportunities, and for businesses and organizations to offer donations of supplies and equipment.
In addition, McAleer offered the following guidelines:
- Cash is the best donation. It allows relief organizations to buy what they need, when they need it. And they can buy supplies close to the disaster site, saving transportation costs and boosting the local economy.
- Volunteering should always be done by working as part of a relief group. Everyone who arrives at a disaster site needs to be fed and housed; relief organizations plan for this. A disaster relief organization will also offer training to volunteers about the special challenges of working in a disaster area, and match volunteer skills to the disaster needs.
- Be patient: There will be recovery volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster, and different skills will be needed at different times. If you are not a member of a disaster group now, join up and get the training you need, and be ready to go when your skills are needed.
- Individual small donations of used clothing are often not needed and are difficult to distribute. Relief organizations typically bring in large amounts of clothing, cleaned, packaged by size and right for the season. Donate small amounts of clothing or other items to a local chapter of a relief agency, or get together with neighbors, hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds.
McAleer said that at this stage of the recovery, relief partnerships can often form -- church groups in Maine connecting with a sister congregation in the disaster area, or fire departments connecting with other departments. "These partnerships can be effective in sending supplies and volunteering," he said. "But be sure to listen to your partners in the disaster area. Only send the things that are really needed. Be sure you can transport supplies or volunteers into the area without adding to congestion."
Governor LePage has authorized several teams of responders to assist in different aspects of the recovery in New York and New Jersey. This assistance is offered through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a mutual aid agreement between states. "As a State, we only send aid when it's asked for, and we make sure it's the right kind of help," McAleer said. "We want to be part of the solution, not add to the problem. That's exactly what we're reminding all Mainers to do."