Sandra Lee urges: Get involved in storm recovery

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Food Network star Sandra Lee has a simple plea about superstorm Sandy recovery efforts — don't get complacent.

Though government efforts to help those caught in the path of last week's epic storm have been tremendous, as have contributions by corporations and individual donors, Lee fears a fallout from all the goodwill and good deeds — people outside the worst-hit areas might assume the work is finished.

"Don't think that everybody else is doing the work or it's getting done," Lee — who also happens to be New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's live-in girlfriend — said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Don't think 'My contribution will be so meaningless and small that it won't matter.' That is not the case."

The storm battered several Northeastern states, but hit New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area particularly hard. Lee has been working the phones to arrange corporate donations for New York's food banks and other charities, including five truckloads of food and emergency supplies from Kmart and Sears.

"We've been reaching out to everyone. It's amazing when CEOs of huge corporations just get on the phone and just get it done," she said. But there also have been disappointments. "There's some that you're just stunned, stunned, stunned, stunned that they don't respond. Where is the leadership at these companies?"

Mostly, however, she has been impressed by how people have pulled together.

"We're all going to be hit by a disaster and a storm and something in our area. It's just a matter of time. You saw it in New Orleans. You're seeing it here," Lee said. "We all have to help one another when that happens. And that is one of the things you're seeing. Right now it's our turn and we're the ones in need. Next time, it will be our turn to help."