After my visit to a Red Cross shelter in New Jersey yesterday, I am more convinced than ever that we must urgently do a better job protecting kids in natural disasters than what we have done so far.
Save the Children began emergency work in the US in a much bigger way after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, just over 7 years ago. I clearly remember the day of the storm when we made the decision to send a small team to Baton Rouge,
Penny Crump – Web Writer/Editor
Atlantic City, New Jersey
November 5, 2012
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with temperatures
dropping, Save the Children rushed to deliver blankets and other cold-weather
supplies to Hurricane Sandy survivors.
One of the children we’ve been helping is 4-year-old Didi. While Didi got an imaginary
“check-up” from her older cousin “Dr. Kelly” at our Child-Friendly Space,
other children needed real-life medical attention at the shelter. With everyone
staying in close quarters, exhausted from the upheaval and a nor’easter on the
way, conditions are primed for kids to catch colds – or worse.
To help keep children warm, we’re sending cozy onesies,
jammies, hats and mittens.
Save the Children is also delivering educational materials
to our Child-Friendly Spaces to help reinforce healthy hygiene, the best line
of defense against diseases. Things like hand-washing and eating healthy snacks
can help kids fight colds, and promotes healthy behaviors in the future.
What’s more, we’re providing parents with the supplies they
need to help keep kids clean and healthy, such as diapers, nutritious snacks
and hygiene supplies.
Didi will be able to go home to a safe, warm home soon. Kids like Didi need
caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts. Please give
generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.
The shelter in the Atlantic City Convention Center shelter is a huge sprawling hall with a constant wave of people arriving and leaving in a regular ebb and flow each day. Some families have just arrived from other shelters, some go back to devastated houses, and some come back to stay for what might be weeks.
Many of those who come to shelters in New Jersey—like this one run by the Red Cross—are families who can least afford to lose a week’s wages, a refrigerator of food, or a room full of furniture, much less a house or apartment. They are working class or poor families, usually with kids. As is the case here in Atlantic City, kids make up at least 25% of the population in shelters in affected areas.
I met many of these kids on my visit today and they all had stories to share.