By Alice Kenny
More than 400,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy are lining up for help with the federal FEMA program, the local New York City Rapid Repair program and other first responders. They come to Catholic Charities to find out what can be done fast and what can be done now, said Michelle LaVignera, director of Staten Island Social Services for Catholic Charities, who, along with staff and volunteers, is helping them navigate the process.
In Staten Island, one of the hardest-hit areas by the super storm, Catholic Charities set up an information booth at the New York City Restoration Center at 1976 Highland Blvd, a main hub established so that hurricane victims can get services and support from first responders at a single site.
Catholic Charities is also offering food and supplies through its mobile food pantry and information and support at the Staten Island Catholic Charities agency MIV / Mt. Loreto. And now, as temperatures drop and mold becomes an increasing concern, Catholic Charities is obtaining infrared heaters to distribute among those in need.
“Our main focus now is serving people in crisis,” Ms. LaVignera said. “But we are also planning for the future. Since we are an agency with locations in Staten Island we will be here long term.”