Stamford, CT - Volunteers will take to the streets of Far Rockaway this weekend, helping remove dangerous mold, mud and debris swept into homes by Hurricane Sandy. About 250 volunteers will take on the arduous task of scouring the mess left behind when the floodwaters receded, allowing families to return home without fear of respiratory distress or infection. The effort will kick off “Operation Muck-Out” – a joint project of AmeriCares and World Cares Center. Volunteers from Rockaway Beach Surf Club went door-to-door in the neighborhood this week to select the beneficiaries. The clean-up begins at 9 a.m. Sunday when teams overseen by Turner Construction foremen get to work in Far Rockaway. Brooklyn Brewery, From Brooklyn with Love, and local churches and restaurants are also providing volunteers. The program will be expanded to Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey in the coming months.
“The kind of cleanup that’s required after flooding of this magnitude is more than a homeowner can handle on his or her own – particularly seniors and people with disabilities,” said AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia. “We are proud to help storm victims in one of the hardest hit communities return to their homes safely.”
World Cares Center, which trains, organizes and empowers volunteers and community leaders to respond to disasters, is hiring a volunteer coordinator to oversee the effort with grant funding from AmeriCares. The humanitarian aid organization has been aiding disaster survivors around the world for 30 years, and supported similar volunteer clean-ups after last year’s earthquake and tsunami and Japan. World Cares Center ran a similar clean up after Hurricane Irene last year in New Jersey.
“Residents who don’t have the physical ability to do the work themselves are our first priority,” said World Cares Center Executive Director Lisa Orloff. “We were still helping New Jersey homeowners cleaning up damage from Irene when Sandy hit, so we expect ‘Operation Muck-Out’ to last a year or more.”
AmeriCares is also partnering with World Cares Center to distribute sleeping bags to Staten Island households without heat since the hurricane. On Tuesday, volunteers will go door-to-door to hundreds of homes delivering 1,900 sleeping bags donated by AmeriCares. The “Operation Winter Warmth” campaign targets seniors and Staten Island residents with mobility issues that have prevented them from leaving storm-damaged homes. Volunteers in both Staten Island and Far Rockaway will also survey storm victims about additional needs.
AmeriCares relief workers have been working nonstop since the hurricane, supplying shelters and aid distribution centers with medical aid, family emergency kits, bottled water, blankets, first aid kits, flashlights and cleaning supplies. The humanitarian aid organization also has a 40-foot mobile clinic traveling to the hardest hit areas of New York City, offering storm victims free flu shots, tetanus vaccines and medical care. To learn more about AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, please go to americares.org
Far Rockaway residents in need of assistance cleaning up storm damage should contact Marina Diaz at World Cares Center at firstname.lastname@example.org