Before Hurricane Sandy had entered our area on October 29, 2012, people began to get ready…water, batteries, non-perishable food, etc were all emptied from store shelves. However, I don’t think anyone had any idea how this would change our lives forever. Hurricane Sandy, also known as the Superstorm, had no remorse, the wind and water were relentless.
It wound up being the largest Atlantic hurricane on record with a diameter of winds spanning 820 miles. IHS Global Insight estimates a loss of $25 billion due to Sandy. Over 8 million lost power in 17 states and more than one hundred people died. More information go to: http://nation.time.com/2012/11/26/hurricane-sandy-one-month-later/.
While watching the news, checking my Facebook account, and talking to friends and business clients about the devastation I thought that there has to be good that comes out of this. And sure enough, there was an outpouring of volunteers, churches, businesses and schools coming together to support one another during the aftermath of Sandy. I wanted to share with you all the heart-warming stories I have heard:
It all started with the Lacey United Methodist Church. I kept hearing their name from many people and decided I best stop by and find out all the buzz. The volunteers were busy separating non-perishable food, paper products, baby products, you name it they had it; and LOTS of donations. I was inspired as well to bring in some items for them. I had heard they needed diabetic meters, which I had extra of, since my daughter is diabetic. There was so much going on in that wonderful church: people dropping off donations, eating a meal, coming in to pick-up products, and volunteers working. It was truly amazing.
Who was running this fine tuned machine? The amazing women is Rev. Applegate and she should be commended for her great leadership during such a crucial period. I was very curious to learn about how many volunteers there were. She said ” In the beginning, not many, now about 600 + on record.”
“Chief Nally did a wonderful job during this difficult time,” stated Rev. Applegate.
Rev. Applegate would also like to thank, Greg Edgecomb, who spearheaded the emergency training. He worked with crews to service 250 homes in Lacey, Ocean Gate, Bayville, and Waretown; they ripped up carpet, lugged furniture, cleaned, etc.
Furthermore, I proceeded to ask about how many meals had gone out since the storm. “9,000 meals”, according to Rev. Applegate. In addition, she is so grateful to Eric DelaCruz and the kitchen crew for all the meals they prepared; in-house and the ones that went out to the community.
She would like to thank Lacey Women’s Club as well for their participation in helping with laundry for those displaced.
Rev. Applegate shared with me how all the churches were working together, it didn’t matter about the denomination.
As a result, I then decided to call the other churches to get their stories as well.
Members of Village Lutheran Church have been working with Lacey United Methodist Church in providing meals for those in need. Moreover, Pastor Mike of Village Lutheran Church had informed me of a ministry lead by Pastor Ed of Shepherds Heart Disasters Response Ministry. This is a religious organization showing love of Jesus after natural disasters by offering free tree and debris removal to the uninsured, underinsured and low-income families. They cover an area from Manahawkin to Brick.
Tracy, Pastor Mike’s wife, then elaborated about the phone messages they have been receiving from people who are in need of this service. At this moment she has a women volunteering to empty her voicemail yet it is still full. They had at least 500 phone calls to respond to and disperse their teams. If you are in need of assistance with a tree that fell down due to Sandy please call 609-314-2686.
Also Shepherd’s Heart is looking for experienced chainsaw teams who can come to Lanoka Harbor, NJ December 16-23 or December 23-29.
Tracy also told me they have been helping their own church members with cars they lost as well as repairs in their homes and more.
The Church is providing an Internet Café. There is free internet and phone charging with delicious coffee.
The Forked River Presbyterian Church was extremely impressed with the efforts at Lacey United Methodist Church. In the beginning, Rev. Dr. Terry Chapman opened the doors for all to come in and warm-up as well as sandwiches and coffee while you charged your cell phones. However, he felt this was too redundant, so he later sent all of his volunteers to support the Methodist Church.
The church volunteers also mucked out houses and helped cut down trees.
Family Promise is a group that cares for homeless families by providing dinner, overnight housing, and breakfast in host churches for one week at a time, every three months. They work in partnership with the Lacey United Methodist Church to provide dinners, evening hosts and other necessities. They also support
the groups in our area that are seeking a shelter for the homeless in Ocean County and affordable housing for the working poor.
Ann, who was very pleasant, at St. Pius Church X, stated they were partnering with Rev. Applegate at Lacey United Methodist Church. St. Pius took clothing from Lacey United Methodist Church, so Rev. Applegate could house more people in the beginning. Anne said, “Rev. Applegate is going to help St. Pius put a task force together for the next time, so we are more prepared.”
St. Pius took a collection from the parishioners to help fund breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as homebound people who also needed food. They also did laundry for many people. They collected clothes and toiletries, ShopRite Wal-Mart, and WaWa Gift Cards as well.
The center is closed now, however they are working with displaced families long-term to find rentals. They are also helping people with bedding, household goods, and furniture.
“It was a horrible thing, but a lot of good came out of it,” Anne stated.
The caring for others didn’t just stay within churches, the school systems joined in as well. Tommy Parlapanidis in the Superintendent’s Office at Central Regional’s School said “It was a complete group effort”. Their staff really stepped up and did a fabulous job. Barbara in transportation who was supposed to
be on vacation that week came in to organize the buses to bring people in from Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, South Seaside, etc to the school.
Bruce in the cafeteria worked on providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men, women and children at the shelter. Tommy would like to thank Chris from The Forked River House for the pizzas.
As of right now Central is collecting Gatorade, cereal, water, power bars, etc. for the Fireman and Policeman who are working endlessly in Seaside. If you would like to help out please call (732) 269-1100 ext. 218.
Southern Regional School District had a Storm Recovery Center set up immediately after Hurricane Sandy, which is still up and running. They received an influx of donations such as cleaning supplies, clothing, bedding, food plus many more items. The Center coordinated teams to rip and tear out damaged dry wall, furniture, etc inside 600 + homes in Stafford and Long Beach Island. These teams started out with school teachers and more than 500 people volunteered. “The Storm Recovery Center is grateful for all the donations and the volunteer effort,” remarked Betty.
They are conducting a Toy Drive; collecting Christmas decorations and coats. Please drop off any of your donations to 775 E. Bay Avenue, Manahawkin, NJ 08050. If you are in need of any of the over mentioned items please call (609) 597-5113 and make an appointment to come and shop.
The Toms River Regional Schools are committed to supporting our school families affected by Hurricane Sandy, too. “Our commitment to the community began as soon as the storm hit.” The Toms River Regional bus drivers under the direction of Margaret Donnelly, mobilized and began rescuing storm victims from flooded areas. The buses continued to transport people, first responders, and supplies to storm ravaged areas.
The Red Cross operated the High School North shelter. The High School East shelter was run by Toms River Regional Schools with the assistance of OEM and Toms River Township.
The Toms River Township Detective Bureau moved into the shelter and provided security, assistance, and community support. The East Dover Fire Department moved into HSE for four days when their fire house flooded. They would like to send their gratitude Chef Murray for his culinary expertise at HSE.
Many people have asked how they can help. This website was created with resources and information to help link storm victims needs with assistance: www.trschools.com/hurricanereliefresources.
Donations to the TRRS Hurricane Relief Fund in the form of a check are welcome, please send them to: TRRS Hurricane Relief Fund at 1144 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753. Drop off donations at: 943 Fischer Blvd., Toms River, NJ 08753 on Monday- Friday 10-2 or Saturday and Sunday 10-3.
People’s Pantry Needs: laundry and dish detergent, new pillows, suitcases, blankets, cat, kitten, and dog food, Vicks Vapor Rub, cleaning supplies, contractor bags, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, jelly, adult underwear (new), dry milk, sugar, tea, soda, salad dressing, bread quart size zip lock bags, hairspray, gel, mousse, antibiotic creams, double, queen and king sized sheets, alcohol swabs, plastic cups and flashlights. All size batteries, paper towels, and index cards.
Any questions contact: Tammi Millar (732) 818-8536, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or view our Facebook page: People’s Pantry.
Besides churches and schools many restaurants were beyond generous in giving to those in need.
I visited Captain’s Inn to speak with Chef Robert Varga who told me he cooked multiple meals for the Methodist Church. Chef Bob would put together a buffet: a variety of salads, pasta dishes, as well as many protein dishes and sides. “Linda Applegate did such an amazing job!” remarked Chef Bob.
He also cooked meals for Central Regional High School, Toms River East and First Responders at Seaside Bridge.
Chef Bob also worked with suppliers, who donated milk and protein shakes. These products were in turn brought directly to Lacey Methodist Church.
“It was a team effort between owners, suppliers, staff and myself”, he said with a kind gesture.
The Forked River German Butcher has been a cornerstone in Lacey Township for over 40 years and has always reached out to help others. Heidi Barsch, daughter of owner Wolfgang Barsch, spoke highly of Rev. Applegate. The Butcher cooked breakfast for Lacey Methodist Church as well as for the Police and Firemen. They also donated soup and hot sandwiches to Forked River Baptist Church. Whenever, Lacey United Methodist Church reached out, whether it was meatballs or salad The German Butcher would reach back.
“We cooked all the turkeys, some of which were donated by customers, for the Methodist Church,” Heidi states.
Heidi’s brother, Andrew and his wife Michelle also delivered hot meals to a 90-year old couple in Forked River who didn’t have electric for 8 days.
The Dutchman Brauhaus donated all their food to Southern Regional High School and the Fire Department. The Dutchman worked very hard to provide hot meals for those who were working to move us forward. He made sandwiches and soup for the emergency workers, police, contractors, public work crews who come and go from Long Beach Island every day. They feed as many as 35 people a day.
“It’s going to be a difficult move forward, that’s for sure,” stated David , owner of Dutchman.
David and his brother are holding numerous fundraisers, one of which is for Habitat for Humanity on December 8th. See ad in Gazette. A large portion of the donation will go to Habitat for Humanity.
Another restaurant that caught my attention was Meat BBQ Co. located in Forked River has been in business for 13 months now. Matt, the owner, worked with a non-profit operation BBQ Relief Company as well as volunteers set up in New Jersey and New York to serve over 109,000 people. They reached areas from Ocean, Monmouth, and Hudson counties to Long Island, New York. Matt also had people nominate families in need in Lacey Township for 10 full Thanksgiving dinners; including everything from the turkey, sides, to dessert. This was completely confidential.
We cannot forget the utilities who helped and worked endless hours to get our power back on, one which came from another state to lend a hand. I was so amazed how easy it was to get a person when I reached out to Alabama Power. I asked to speak to someone about the crew and their amazing work they accomplished after Sandy. And sure enough I had a response in one day. Not only that but they had someone check to be sure that a person had returned my call. Now that is truly a company with customer service!
I know there are so many more people out there to write about most importantly the police department, fire department, EMT’s, first responders, and volunteers. To each of them we all say THANK YOU for always being there for us.
We are quite thankful for the State Troopers who traveled from 13 different states in the aftermath of Sandy. Sadly one of the Trooper’s, Kyle Deatherage, was killed in a traffic stop soon after returning from spending weeks helping our community.
Our deepest sympathy go out to his family.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost family members and friends due to Sandy.
I would like to also thank all those who shared their story for my Gazette readers. I was truly inspired by all the people I interviewed and hope others will be too.
When a bottle is broken on the shore and then enters the water as broken glass; it tumbles through the sand and goes through many tides of waves some rough and some calm. The tides can be relentless bringing the glass onto shore again and again, softening the edges. Eventually turning into this beautiful sea glass, which children look for on the beach. I have wonderful memories looking for sea glass with my mom, walking on the Jersey Shore as well as the shores of the Sound in Long Island, New York.
What was once broken can become something lovely and beautiful with time. We are strong…Jersey Strong!
By Jennifer Grazioso, Publisher