Jon Gregory is a member of APCO’s government relations team and is a director based in our Washington, D.C., office.
Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area. It was one of the worst national disasters in U.S. history, directly hitting the most populated area in the nation. Estimates are that at least 125 people died, more than 8.5 million people lost power and $25 billion in business was lost. A month and a half after the storm, people are still without power or a roof over their head.
Despite the devastating loss and disruption, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy individuals and the business community have clearly come together and given. According to the Center on Philanthropy, donors poured $219 million into Sandy relief within the three weeks following the storm.
The almost unprecedented group of music stars that supported the 12-12-12 concert last week in response to Sandy focuses attention on philanthropy in general and how and why people and companies are giving.
So, how are companies and individuals giving back and supporting disaster relief?
Sheetz. Inc., which owns a chain of gas and convenience stores, didn’t give funds, but instead, their own capital. Sheetz donated the use of three 48′ refrigerated distribution trucks and drivers, to assist the American Red Cross in delivering meals to storm victims in Toms River, East Rutherford and Middletown, New Jersey. The drivers left for the American Red Cross emergency kitchens on November 10, and stayed onsite at those locations for three weeks.
Another of the many outstanding examples of support during hurricane Sandy included Long Island’s St. Francis Hospital, which provided meals to 700 local residents, soup kitchens and churches rather than conduct its usual Holiday celebration.
Some companies which are based and operate in the affected area, gave what funds to those they really knew needed it — their employees.
China Ocean Shipping Company’s* (COSCO Group) Americas headquarters has been located in Secaucus for 30 years and during the hurricane, almost all of the local employees were impacted by the storm personally or as part of their broader community. Employees dealt with issues ranging from extended loss of power, to flooded basements and damaged roofs, to struggling to rebuild their damaged homes.
On the day before the Thanksgiving holiday COSCO Americas’ President, Liu Hanbo, presented a $200,000 donation to support relief for the most severely affected local employees. This help came from the COSCO Charity Foundation (CCF), along with COSCO Group, COSCO affiliated companies and Chinese employees.
UNIQLO, the Japanese clothing store, with a few Manhattan locations, decided that they would encourage their employees to volunteer, help clean up the affected areas and distribute clothing that they were donating.
When UNIQLO’s CEO, Shin Odake, spoke to the media after the donation of time and resources he said that he wanted to give the resources that are uniquely UNIQLO and most important to their business; that is, clothing and equally important, enabling their employees and customers to donate their time.
During recent national disasters, it has become clear that citizens, non-profits, and businesses pulling together can often accomplish what governments cannot do alone. The story with Hurricane Sandy was no different as individuals, organizations, companies, governments impacted by the storm as well as those not impacted by the storm joined together to provide relief and support recovery in a variety of different ways, each of which made an impact.
In a world that continues facing challenges on a daily basis, these stories are a few of many examples of how, when disaster strikes, the local community becomes the global community.