Albany, N.Y. – Thirteen months after upstate New York was devastated by Hurricane Irene, upstate Catholics and non-Catholics alike came together to support those downstate affected by Superstorm Sandy. Through special collections, fundraisers, school events, and generous individual contributions, the total amount raised by the Catholic Church and its ministries in the five upstate dioceses was $1,364,822.

A large symbolic check representing that total was presented to Catholic Charities representatives in the three downstate dioceses hardest hit by Sandy, including Laura Cassell, at center in the photo above, the CEO of Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre. Those three highly populated downstate dioceses, the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre, also collected another $5.5 million to aid the victims of Sandy within their own communities.

The response is especially noteworthy, considering that at a similar time the previous year gifts were coming into upstate New York to help with recovery efforts from Hurricane Irene. Hundreds of local homes and business were damaged by that storm and the flooding that ensued in August of 2011. Much of upstate New York, including eleven counties in the Albany Diocese, were declared Federal Disaster Areas.