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American Red Cross announces $2 million in grants to superstorm Sandy survivors on two-year anniversary

In Westhampton, the high tide in Shinnecock Bay,

In Westhampton, the high tide in Shinnecock Bay, coupled with Sandy's powerful winds and rain, left homes in the area flooded on Oct 30, 2012. Credit: Doug Kuntz

The American Red Cross Wednesday announced $2 million in grants to help superstorm Sandy survivors recover from the disaster that struck two years ago.

The money includes $1.3 million to the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, an umbrella agency that works with health and human services nonprofits, to be doled out to survivors through a donor roundtable.

Another $197,000 will help the council continue to operate the Long Island Disaster Recovery Center through 2015 at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Central Islip.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, which oversees the center's housing for Sandy volunteers, also will get $500,000 to continue its outreach in New York and New Jersey, including rebuilding homes.

Gwen O'Shea, president of the Health & Welfare Council, said the coalition of nonprofits focused on helping Long Islanders to recover shows there is "strength in numbers."

"When you are forced to rebuild and recover from a disaster that was outside of your control, there is no one organization or one individual that can do it alone," O'Shea said at a news conference in front of the disaster recovery center.

The council leads the Long Island Long Term Recovery Group, a partnership of nonprofit, faith-based and other groups formed in response to Sandy that provide disaster and legal assistance and other help.

More than 95,000 Long Island structures, including more than 50,000 single-family houses, were damaged or destroyed on Oct. 29, 2012, by flood, wind or falling trees courtesy of Sandy. Many Long Islanders continue to struggle with their recovery.

John Miller, chief executive of the American Red Cross on Long Island, said "the role the nonprofit community has played on Long Island has been tremendous. It's unprecedented."

He said he hoped the grants would "continue the good work well into 2015."

Last spring, the American Red Cross gave $1 million to the donor roundtable, known as the Long Island Unmet Needs Roundtable. O'Shea said the roundtable has given $3 million to survivors.

The organizations said the recovery continues and volunteers remain invigorated to continue working.

"Our tales are many, the photographs too raw to look at. . . . We wonder when will it end; others wonder when will it begin," said Liz Treston, president of the Long Beach COAD (Community Organization Active in Disaster), whose own home was damaged by Sandy.

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