BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn nonprofit received a $1.25 million grant from the American Red Cross to continue their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in coastal neighborhoods, Wednesday.
Brooklyn Community Foundation will use the funds to provide on-the ground recovery through nonprofits based in Red Hook, Canarsie, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay.
“It was really the damage that drove us to focus most heavily on these neighborhoods,” said Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
Soon after Hurricane Sandy struck last year, the DUMBO nonprofit began working with communities in the waterfront neighborhoods, some of the hardest hit in the city.
They raised about $2.3 million for immediate and long-term relief work, said spokeswoman Liane Stegmaier, helping to rebuild the neighborhoods and strengthen them against future storms through the Brooklyn Recovery Fund, a joint effort with Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
About four to six months after Sandy, 100 percent of the funds had been used to support “Community Collaboratives” – groups of nonprofits based in the five neighborhoods, said Stegmaier.
To continue their work, the organization turned to the Red Cross for funding.
Critics recently slammed the Red Cross for reports that they hadn’t spent more than a third of about $303 million donated for storm victims.
But the organization, known for their immediate recovery response to disasters, is in the “long-term recovery phase” of their operation, said Josh Lockwood, regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater New York, in a press release.
“The Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend about $192 million for Sandy disaster relief in the first six months — nearly two-thirds of the $303 million that we’ve raised for Sandy in the past seven months,” the organization said, in a statement.
“In addition, the Red Cross is working with a number of other community and partner agencies in New York and New Jersey and giving grants to ensure they have the resources needed to help survivors,” according to the statement, adding that the process of vetting grant requests can be time consuming.
Brooklyn Community Foundation has been talking to the Red Cross “literally for months now,” said Gelber, adding that the Red Cross would address future and unmet needs of storm victims through her organization.
“They don’t want to duplicate the work of others,” said Gelber. “The Red Cross is not out of the Brooklyn business.”