Island Harvest looks to expand in 2013

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Lori Andrade, the chief operating officer of The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, spoke briefly about the activities of the Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster in response to Hurricane Sandy. LIVOAD comprises a team of 80 governmental and non-governmental members who work to foster a coordinated approach to respond to mental of physical issues of residents following disasters and crises. The team was founded in December of 2011 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and reformed during the economic crisis of 2007-2008, as well as after 2011’s Hurricane Irene.

Andrade said that LIVOAD, in the days before and after the hurricane hit, had daily phone conversations with 25 organizations, and that Island Harvest played a huge role in addressing the issues that each organization faced. “The need is unprecedented, as we’ve heard from both of our counties, there is significant needs out there that we haven’t dealt with before,” Andrade said. “The effort has been unprecedented also.”

But Shubin-Dresner indicated that while the moment of disaster has passed, Island Harvest is now entering its long-term recovery mode. She said she recently spoke with agencies who responded to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and was told that the recovery process lasted approximately 18 months. “So we know we’re in this for the long haul,” she said.

She added that, after completing a survey, 90 percent of the organization’s food agencies are back up and running following the storm, another 5 percent remain in limbo, while another 5 percent are expected to re-emerge in the near future.

Addressing how the organization will evolve in the future, Christensen said the plan is to develop more partnerships, create stronger programs, and to increase communication within its network of agencies. “That’s the key to all of this. It’s the communication,” said Christiansen. “You know your community better than anyone else. That information you share with us invaluable.”

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