FEMA volunteers meet in the parking lot of the Drum Point Elementary School in Brick in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Still criticized as an office that can’t get the job done, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken on a high profile role in the response to Hurricane Sandy, providing food, shelter, and emergency financial assistance to millions while also helping to coordinate the efforts to restore power and end the regional gas shortage.
In the four days since Sandy made landfall, some 2,300 FEMA agents have been involved in the response and recovery effort. Rowan University Professor Robert Fleming, a national expert on emergency preparation and response, gave the agency high marks for its efforts. Fleming said FEMA learned a lot in the wake of Hurricane Katrina about issues of coordination, cooperation and communications and applied those lessons this week.

Fugate said the key difference between FEMA’s response to Sandy and to its handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast oil spill was advance preparation. FEMA volunteers Joe Cole, 20, Saul Korzenecki, 24, and Kerri Anne Robinson, 20, in Hoboken.
A team of volunteers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arrived in Hoboken today to initiate a community relations effort, as residents and businesses pick up the pieces following Hurricane Sandy. In a joint venture between AmeriCorps and FEMA, an 11-person team is in the Mile Square City distributing flyers and information to residents on how to register with the Federal agency. Cole is part of group of 240 volunteers that arrived in Trenton today and then were dispatched across the state.

The agency has released more than $18 million in rental and other forms of financial assistance, including more than $10.6 million to New Jersey residents, administrator Craig Fugate said. But the outpouring of volunteers from the affected communities and around the country who pulled together after the storm to do anything from running shelters, to feeding the displaced, to mucking and gutting homes revealed the heart of a caring nation.There is still much more work to be done in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas – especially in the hardest-hit communities in New Jersey and New York – and all the volunteers deserve kudos for stepping up to help their neighbors in need.

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