Lessons Learned One Year After Hurricane Sandy

Lessons Learned One Year After Hurricane Sandy

Posted on October 29, 2013 by Nancy Henry

On Oct. 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, causing record-breaking devastation in New York and New Jersey. Twenty-five states were affected, with an estimated $65 billion in damages and more than 80 lives lost.

Following this natural disaster, The Patterson Foundation collaborated with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and offered a $200,000 dollar-for-dollar matching challenge benefiting CDP's Hurricane Sandy Disaster Fund. This gave donors the opportunity to maximize their generosity and support the full lifecycle of the disaster -- beyond immediate relief.

Within eight weeks the challenge exceeded its goal! This inspired The Patterson Foundation to match an additional $40,000, ensuring long-term, transformational impact for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

One year later, learning from Hurricane Sandy

For some, it's hard to believe the one-year anniversary is just days away. For others, the past year may have felt like an eternity. It's time to take a look back at what was accomplished over the past 12 months. In particular, the lessons learned and what the road to recovery looks like.

Bob Ottenhoff, CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, recently moderated a webinar about Hurricane Sandy's one-year anniversary. Joe Ruiz, humanitarian relief program manager for the UPS Foundation shared some opening remarks.

Panelists included:

- Ronna Brown, president of Philanthropy New York

- Pete Kasabach, executive director of  New Jersey Future

- Melissa McCrumb, Sandy response coordinator for Make the Road New York

- Nina Stack, president of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers

The panelists delved into the strategic role that private philanthropy plays in not only immediate relief efforts, but  also the often-overlooked need for long-term recovery funding post Superstorm Sandy.

From collaboration to resilience plans, lessons pave the way

For changemakers, philanthropists and communities learning to move on after Sandy, the road to recovery will be paved with lessons learned.

Here are some insights from the panel:

• Communities are embracing the need for change to become resilient communities

• Coordination and collaboration with levels of government is instrumental in relief and recovery

• The "convenor" role of organizations like Philanthropy New York and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers is essential in gathering funders, building relationships, and providing information during and after a disaster

• Providing resources to help communities with long-term resilience plans is needed. For example, how would communities transform knowing that climate change is a factor (such as rising sea levels)

• Housing concerns go beyond the issue of rebuilding. There's a huge number of displaced people because of  unaffordable housing and the slow pace of construction.

For Tweets shared during the session, visit our Storify page.

Where do we go from here?

On the New Jersey Future website, I came across the report: After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability. “Bounce forward” was used to describe the term resilience.

Immediately, I understood what resilience means for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. As human beings, and communities for that matter, we have the ability to bounce back after a disaster, as well as bounce forward; taking the experience to change for the better, to be smarter, more adaptable, sustainable…and above all, to be resilient.

Indeed, a long journey is still ahead for the people, communities, and businesses of New York and New Jersey. However, continuing to keep our focus and support on the long-term recovery needs, sharing what we've all learned from this disaster and bringing  action items to fruition (as well as embracing the rebuilding of resilient communities) will better prepare us all to withstand the next natural disaster, which is an inevitable reality.


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