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Hedge Funds Pump Millions Into Sandy Relief

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the temperature in the Northeast drops, hedge funds and private equity titans are dialing up on their efforts to provide relief to areas still reeling from the impact Hurricane Sandy nearly a week after the storm devastated coastal states and left millions without power.

Still, as relief efforts across the U.S. and Corporate America materialize, it's too be seen whether Wall Street contributions will be seen as matching the size and scope of the storm's damage -- or the industry's fortunes.

Just prior to Sandy's landfall, embattled hedge fund billionaire John Paulson of Paulson & Co. donated $100 million to the preservation of New York's Central Park. In late September, Carlyle Group (CG) co-founder William Conway donated $1 billion to education and job training efforts aimed at improving the fortunes of the poor.

Whether individual and collective contributions for Sandy relief reach such levels remains to be seen, as momentum builds for fund-raising efforts.

On Friday night, a NBC telethon presented by the American Red Cross targeted at U.S. TV viewers and featuring performances by Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Mary J. Blige and Sting raised $23 million, and Viacom's (VIAB) MTV Network is planning a similar relief pitch, according to media reports. NBC's Hurricane Katrina telethon raised $40 million in 2005.

Over the weekend, The Robin Hood Foundation, an over two-decade old charitable foundation created by hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones to fight poverty said it's upped efforts to raise money and provide relief to the East Coast as many remain without power or a permanent home.

On Sunday, Robin Hood's chairman Lee Ainslie said the foundation will disburse $3 million in immediate aid to regions impacted by Hurricane Sandy by Tuesday. Meanwhile, Ainslie, who is also CEO of hedge fund Maverick Capital Management, told Bloomberg TV that the popular charitable organization on Wall Street has raised $8 million in a relief fundraising effort since Friday.

According to a Sunday statement from Robin Hood, the foundation re-launched its Relief Fund -- initially created to help New York City recover from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 - in a move to target resources towards Sandy recovery work.

Ainslie also said Robin Hood has been in contact with New York state and city officials since Wednesday on how to distribute aid, money and other resources.

Media reports across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut signal that millions in the Northeast remain without power as temperatures begin drop near, or in some cases, below freezing.

State governors have relaxed oil and gas import restrictions, and in some instances, resorted to rationing programs as a gas shortage curtailed recovery efforts. Meanwhile New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said over the weekend that a housing crisis looms , as thousands across the city's five boroughs face the prospect of having lost their homes.

Insured losses tied to Hurricane Sandy are already projected in the tens of billions, and some industry insiders say victims may face lengthy challenges for payouts on whatever damage is covered. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken to airwaves and social media to alert people of ways to register for federal aid.

See Why Hurricane Sandy Sets the Stage for Insurance Battles.

Robin Hood's Facebook page signals workers at its relief fund have already combed flood stricken New York boroughs like Staten Island for ways to aid recovery efforts and the fund has contributed food, energy and shelter at sites funded by the foundation like a Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan's Lower East side.

Ainslie told BloombergTV the fund had also made and delivered gas purchases in states like New Jersey facing a shortage.

On Twitter, Ralph Lauren (RL) said it is giving $1 million to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, donating to the Robin Hood Foundation, the American Red Cross and other local charities.

The Robin Hood Foundation, a staple of Wall Street charitable giving, counts hedge funders Daniel Och of Och-Ziff Capital Management, David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital, Steven A. Cohen of S.A.C. Capital Advisors and Glenn Dubin of Highbridge Capital Management as board members.

Other board members include CEO's like Laurence Fink of BlackRock (BLK) , Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (GE), in addition to Jes Staley who heads JPMorgan's (JPM) investment bank and David Solomon, the co-head of Goldman Sachs's investment banking unit.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, NBC anchor Brian Williams and film producer Harvey Weinstein, are among the non-Wall Streeters on Robin Hood's board.

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