Sunday, November 18, 2012

What recovery looks house at a time

So far I've managed to be a positive force for change around here.  The Jersey shoreline has been all but destroyed in many areas, and there are many locations where the state police are doing their best to keep gawkers and "disaster tourists" out.  The cops are pretty good at letting volunteers in, and in Sea Bright, NJ, I witnessed such an outpouring of kindness and help on all levels.

"All levels" range from cleaning out destroyed and/or condemned homes, to people cooking meals for the volunteers.  I saw helicopters flying low over the disaster area and folks stopping to cheer for the military, to firefighters flipping burgers, average Joes manning food and clothing stations, to FEMA folks going around trying to help as many people as possible.

In Port Monmouth, I saw strangers come together to clear out a condemned home under whose roof resided two kind older women who cared for special need children.

Of course there are those who are angry they've been inconvenienced by minor things.  We ran into a woman driving a Porche who wanted us to to up to a huge dump truck and bucket loader to ask them to move so she could drive through.  "I have perishable food items in the car and can't wait 15 minutes for them to finish!"  We would not comply with her request as she seemed totally oblivious to the huge mess right in front of her.  How she could be so worried waiting 15 minutes when the entire belongings of a home full of love had just been lost was beyond me.

Today I met a homeowner who lost her entire first floor and her car that was parked in her garage.  The force of the water ripped off the door and deposited nearly three feet of sand around her car; it needed to be pulled out with a front end loader.

Here are some pictures I've taken in my volunteering travels...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Aftermath

I'm extremely thankful as this time around, the house did not flood!  God kept the house dry as a bone, and while others got socked with rain, we barely got touched. 

While we were largely spared, we found ourselves wanting to help those who are worse off.  Donning work gloves, we headed out to start cleaning out destroyed houses.

It's really quite sad work.  You see a person's life dumped out onto the side of the street, and the person stands off to the side, wondering if anything can be saved.  You do your best to clean out and salvage at the same time. 

Our first house clean out happened today as volunteering efforts are now starting to get properly organized.  The water line was easily 4.5' high, and we could see sea grass in places it didn't belong (like inside a barbecue).  It took 12 of us working very hard to strip the entire first floor and toss it onto the side of the street.

When will I cook again?  Not sure, but there's a priority to help my neighbors that trumps making good food right now.