Truro’s Doug Benedict is shown here at an American Red Cross service centre in New York. Benedict recently returned from a three-week trip with the Canadian Red Cross to assist people who are still suffering from the effects of hurricane Sandy. Submitted photo
TRURO – A Truro resident was recently reminded just how blessed Canadians are.
Doug Benedict, 65, is a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. He recently returned from a three-week mission trip with the red cross to New York to assist with ongoing hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The powerful storm ravaged the area in October 2012.
“It’s long-lasting because so many people were involved,” said Benedict, a retired teacher, of the massive assistance still required. Thousands of people are still without homes since the disaster struck in the fall.
Benedict was the only Maritimer to go on the most recent trip with the Canadian Red Cross, which was summoned by the organization’s American counterpart.
“They have exhausted their resources and needed more volunteers,” said Benedict, who did needs assessments with people in Stanton Island, Queens and Brooklyn who are having “the worst time of their lives.”
“I met with people in homes, on sidewalks and in shops because they don’t have a home anymore. The aim was to get them into sustainable housing, determine their need and give them referrals to other agencies,” said Benedict.
“You find tears but a lot of resiliency. There were people who were still recovering from frightening circumstances. Many were frustrated with the time it was taking to address their needs … some people still struggle with medical needs. There are still people living in hotels and children who need to get on trains to get to the schools,” Benedict said.
He said helping the cause was rewarding for everyone involved.
“People appreciated the help of complete strangers,” and “it’s a good learning opportunity and to help people when in need is very rewarding. When you go you (realize) we are very fortunate in Canada and Nova Scotia. We suffered from the same storm but it was less intense.”
The red cross accepted volunteers who have had previous experience in disaster zones. Benedict has helped the local organization on many calls and has also travelled to Thunder Bay, Ont. last year when deal with severe flooding. He’s also helped with the aftermath of Slave Lake, Alta, fires in 2011.
“You have to be emphatic, but detached, to be helpful,” Benedict said of volunteering in this capacity.
Anyone interested in becoming a Canadian Red Cross volunteer can call 895-3894 for more details.
During a recent trip to New York, the following statistics were revealed about ongoing hurricane Sandy relief efforts:
- 30,000 people have been in shelters since the October hurricane.
- More than five million bulk items have been distributed by the red cross to people in need since hurricane Sandy.
- More than seven million meals and snacks have been served to those in need by the red cross.
Information provided by Doug Benedict, a Canadian Red Cross volunteer who recently went to New York to help with relief efforts.
Did you know the following about hurricane Sandy?
- Damage in the United States is estimated to be worth more than $71 billion.
- It was a category 3 storm at its peak intensity when it made landfall in Cuba in late October, 2012. While it was a category 2 storm off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record.
- At least 285 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries.
- In the United States, hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York.
* Information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Sandy