NEW YORK — A week after superstorm Sandy, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are still without power and with no place to cook. The American Red Cross has helped prepare tens of thousands of meals and has delivered them to the areas that need them most.
In a vast parking lot in Queens, Red Cross staff and volunteers are preparing and packing food for storm victims. Robert Baltadona oversees the 275 helpers at this facility, one of four in the area.
"We have a bulk distribution system where we have heater meals, we have fruits, we have packaged cakes, we have water, we have snacks, and right behind these trucks right here we have a fully operable kitchen that is serving hotmeals at the rate of 30,000 meals twice a day," said Baltadona.
Many of those meals contain so-called "comfort food."
"For example, last night for dinner we served goulash. So this is food that is gong to make you feel good. This is food that is going to make you feel at home. Because that is exactly our mission. We want to make sure that people have a sense of normalcy even though we understand they have lost everything. A feeling of normalcy is critical for their recovery," explained Baltadona.
The Red Cross is working closely with other humanitarian groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention. Their volunteers drove from Kentucky, more than 1,000 kilometers, to prepare hot meals. Karen Smith oversees the kitchen.
"But I do not know that we are making a dent. There is a lot of people in New York," said Smith.
But she is hopeful.
"Wait just a little bit. All you are going to see is smiles. And it has been very trying on us, but we are not doing it for us, we are doing it for the Lord," she said.
Nearly 100 Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles called ERVs are delivering food to storm-damaged neighborhoods and double that number of trucks are on the way.
Red Cross officials say they will be serving victims for as long as they are needed, while storm victims are anxious to make a hot meal for themselves.
Video was produced by Daniela Schrier