What’s up at the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (HSNJRF)? Founded in the midst of the storm, the fund has raised over $32 million, but none of that aid has reached storm victims yet.
On December 27 Chair Mary Pat Christie said, “While our board is looking at long-term needs, the board felt it was important to provide sizeable assistance to help immediate needs as well.” She explained that the charity’s board voted during its Dec. 20 meeting to release its first $1 million to Long Term Recovery Committees. She went on to say, “This will be the first of many ongoing disbursements in the coming weeks and months to help New Jersey come back stronger than before.”
However, we now approach five months post-Sandy, with no relief yet in the hands of those who need it. Shannon Mullen reports for AP that Mrs. Christie says, “I have taken excruciating steps to make sure that we give the money out in a really judicious way.” Additionally:
Mary Pat Christie’s defense of her charity’s performance, however, comes on the heels of the pointed barbs her husband, Gov. Chris Christie, has hurled at FEMA and House Speaker John Boehner, among others, for what the governor sees as inexcusable delays in helping the state’s residents, businesses and communities still reeling from the Oct. 29 storm. Christie famously called Congress’ holdup of Sandy relief “disgusting.”
Storm victim Gigi Liaguno-Dorr appears to concur with that assessment. Regarding HSNJRF, she says, “That’s absolutely 100 percent unacceptable, because we want help yesterday.” She is still battling her insurance company over the destruction of her Union Beach restaurant.
Other relief agencies have acted with a sense of urgency. Robin Hood Foundation, which sponsored the NYC concert has awarded more than $50 million in grants to dozens of nonprofit groups, with nearly 40 percent of the funds earmarked for relief efforts in New Jersey.
While there is value in Mrs. Christie being “judicious,” a hurricane of Sandy’s size calls for considerably more urgency and speed. People need help. These delays are inexcusable, and are signs that the fund has not been up to its task. It is time for Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to get on the ball.