Hurricane Sandy a storm ‘many have feared for a long time,’ says Catholic official
Hurricane Sandy “is a storm that people in southern New Jersey have feared for a long time because of its direct impact on the coast,” an area with that is highly developed and also has a significant rate of poverty, said an official of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Camden, N.J.
“Ocean City, N.J., which is in Cape May County, that was completely covered with water … and that’s a fairly large area,” Kevin Hickey, executive director of Catholic Charities, told Catholic News Service Oct. 30. He said Wildwood, N.J., was similarly underwater and flooding would be a severe problem anywhere where rivers met bays or estuaries.
Access had been barred to the barrier islands — which include Atlantic City — because state and local police and fire officials were assessing the extent of power outages and flooding.
Hickey said teams had been set up to establish relief services, and that two parishes had been identified by midday Oct. 30 as relief distribution sites.
Camden was one of many dioceses along the East Coast that followed the lead of federal, state and local governments in shutting operations as Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29 in New Jersey with stiff winds, huge rainfalls, power outages and severe flooding.
Catholic Charities USA was working with its local affiliates along the East Coast to get them necessary supplies and services once the storm passed.
“Reports from the National Weather Service make it clear that many of our agencies on the East Coast — from New York all the way down to Florida — will be feeling some impact from Hurricane Sandy and we stand ready to provide whatever support necessary to meet the needs of those affected,” said an Oct. 29 statement from Samuel Chambers, Catholic Charities USA senior vice president of disaster operations.
“Since Hurricane Katrina, we have focused on being prepared for future disasters,” said an Oct. 29 statement from Catholic Charities USA president Father Larry Snyder, “Not only are we early responders, but our presence in the community also puts us in a position to be able to quickly assess and provide support in the long term.”
Dioceses heeded the advice of governors and big-city mayors, who had declared a state of emergency in their respective jurisdictions, and shut down for at least one day with the possibility of extending their shutdown longer. The Camden Diocese was closed Oct. 29 and 30. [More]