“We’re dealing with the plight of our neighbors who live just one mile from here,” says Stony Point Communications Manager Paula Sandusky. “We continue to get calls from folks who have lost everything, looking for a shelter that hasn’t already closed its doors. The phone rings nonstop with offers of stop-gap help: food, clothing, toiletries, and supplies.”
Stony Point Center, located an hour north of New York City, is just a mile away from the widest point of the Hudson River. “Luckily we were spared,” says Sandusky. “We’re on higher ground, so we only lost power during the worst of the hurricane. People who lived on the river were deluged by an 11-foot storm surge.”
Sandusky says Stony Point is doing what it can to help its neighbors, providing shelter, food, and heat to 111 people. “How do your run a faith-based shelter that just doesn’t close?” she wonders. “Some of the folks we’re working with say we should have given them a cut-off date, but that doesn’t feel right to us.”
Stony Point has been working with the Department of Social Services, the Office of Emergency Services, seven Red Cross teams, FEMA, and United Way to lend transitional support for the more than 60 adults and 40 children. “The outpouring of support by the community has been unbelievable,” says Sandusky. “We have put running a conference center on the back burner while we play the role of case managers for individuals, because there’s no other agency equipped to take on that role in this situation.”
Despite the chaos of dealing with the aftermath of the storm, Sandusky is grateful. “This experience has solidified so many of our relationships, and we’ve met amazing people over the past two weeks.” Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provided coordination with the Red Cross and FEMA during their visit. The Hudson River Presbytery is lending support. Other Presbyterians have made donations on the Stony Point website to help defray some of its expenses and support its overall mission.
“We’re footing the bill for food, the overtime cost of providing three meals a day, seven days a week,” she says, “plus extra heating costs.”
Stony Point has even been able to help the children stay caught up in school. The superintendent of schools came with the head of transportation and leaders from four different schools to be sure the kids from the North Rockland School District returned the day that school resumed. The community came together to provide backpacks full of school supplies for these students.
“We’re grateful that we could hold the hands of our neighbors a bit and help them through the first month of recovery,” she says. “We have a full calendar of conferences in December. By then we hope each one our guests will have found transitional or more permanent housing.”