Helen Thorn and AllaMae Walker spent the terrifying hours of Hurricane Sandy away from their homes, with relatives and at a nearby shelter. What they found when they returned to their apartments in South Norwalk, CT, was equally frightening: furniture, clothing and books all ruined by polluted floodwater.
When workers from a local civil service organization, Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON), stopped by with Family Emergency Kits from AmeriCares, the women were thankful for the help. “When I came back on Wednesday, the water was gone but everything was turned over and wet,” explained AllaMae. “All my books are destroyed; my towels and washcloths too.”
The floodwater that rushed through 6,000 homes in South Norwalk wasn’t just salty: During the storm, fresh sewage poured into Long Island Sound. Now, anything wet carries risk of disease, making the hygiene supplies in the Family Emergency Kits essential to protecting the health of residents.
In the two days after the hurricane, AmeriCares delivered more than 100 kits to NEON for pick-up by local residents – a small part of our large-scale hurricane response. The kits, stocked with soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, wipes and other personal care items are among 6,000 hygiene kits AmeriCares delivered to emergency shelters and aid distribution centers throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Raneesha, who works at NEON and lives in the same neighborhood as Helen and AllaMae, also lost everything in the floods. Throughout the distribution, Raneesha had lively music playing in an effort to create upbeat for families who had lost so much. According to Raneesha, the kits are bringing comfort in a time of crisis: “Families can use the money that they would have spent on these items and put it towards some of the belongings they need to replace,” she explained.
In the next building, Helen had pulled the cushions off of her couch, waiting for friends to come and help her take it away. When she returned to her home, there was still standing water. “My bedroom was soaked,” she said. “I have to throw out my mattress and everything.” The dumpster next to Helen’s building was filled with water-logged furniture.
The Family Emergency Kits are keeping people clean, and under these circumstances, staying clean also means staying healthy.