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Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino has announced that the Westchester County Disaster Recovery Fund has been set up in partnership with the United Way of Westchester and Putnam to help provide recovery assistance to residents and families affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The announcement was made after Astorino toured the United Way 2-1-1 call center and thanked the staff and volunteers who have helped more than 3,000 callers in need of assistance since the hurricane hit.
"The Westchester County Disaster Recovery Fund will be an important tool in helping our residents rebuild after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy," Astorino said. "This is a neighbors helping neighbors fund. The money people donate will stay right here in Westchester."
The fund – which will address longer-term needs that are either not covered by insurance, other not-for-profit agencies or government programs, such as FEMA – will be administered by the United Way of Westchester and Putnam. Grants will be awarded to local not-for-profits after review by a 10-member board of professionals and community members from various fields of expertise. The county will serve in an advisory capacity only, and will not have any fiscal responsibility.
"This recovery is going to take a long time and we are very happy to partner with the county in forming the Westchester County Disaster Recovery Fund," said Naomi Adler, president and CEO of the United Way of Westchester and Putnam. "The hope is that this fund will help get people back on their feet in the weeks and months to come. It is very humbling being on the United Way 2-1-1 lines right after a disaster, listening to the needs of Westchester residents."
Meanwhile, the United Way 2-1-1 helpline has fielded more than 3,000 calls and counting since Sunday. In addition, the affiliated Web site – Hudson211.org – has tallied nearly 220,000 searches. The top areas of need have been power outages, dry ice, shelters and road closures, according to the United Way.
The calls continued to flood in as Astorino individually thanked each of those who have been working day and night to man the phones.
"The United Way 2-1-1 helpline has been a vital resource for thousands of people over the past few days," Astorino said. "There are so many great services available throughout Westchester, but many times people don't know about them. 2-1-1 helps to connect residents with these resources. 2-1-1 is also important because it cuts back on calls to 9-1-1, which frees up police to respond to more urgent situations."
To make a donation or to learn more, visit www.UWWP.org. Checks can be made out to "United Way of Westchester and Putnam - Disaster Recovery Fund" and mailed to the United Way of Westchester and Putnam at 336 Central Park Ave., White Plains, NY, 10606.