Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Day in Union Beach, NJ

A Day in Union Beach NJ......

After our day in Rockaway, the thought never occurred that we wouldn't be back. We just needed to plan our return. Sam and Billy went back 2 weeks later to Rockaway, NY.

(psst....check out the guy with the Lady Glasses, always keepin it real Billy!!!)
They came back with news that the streets were cleaner and passable and the town was buzzing with amazing people offering help to those in need.
Our next mission was Union Beach NJ Fire Station #1 to help at their distribution center.  We would go Dec 8th. Once the word got out we had friends asking to go with us. Supplies and coats started piling up. Oh, but no big truck this time. We needed lots of cars and we had them!
I don't think any of us were prepared for what we were about to see.

The storm surge from Sandy left 1,600 of the town’s 2,100 homes damaged or destroyed. About six weeks later when we were there, the mess remains. The police department is using donated cars from as far away as Wilmington, N.C., after losing 10 of its 12 cruisers in the storm. The fire company lost fire trucks and 3 stations. The average annual income in town is just above $65,000. Again...this is not a "vacation" town. These people live here year round, it is a hometown.
When we arrived at the fire station we had to split into groups. There were 25 of us and a lot to accomplish!
Some of us walked the streets handing out face masks, hand warmers, gloves and bagged lunches.
We brought about 200 bagged lunches that were made by some great friends! Thank You!
Some of us went to the beach area where there was a clean ocean action day. They were requesting volunteers along the coast to help clean up the ocean all along New York and New Jersey. We thought that would be a great job for the kids!

My daughter found a flag and made sure it was standing! My son and nephews found old family photos under the sand. They gave them to a man who was scanning them into facebook in hopes the owner would see them.
The rest of us stayed back at the fire station to help sort and organize.
We had a great day. We met some amazing people. We were inspired. We cried. We laughed.
Most importantly, we got stuff done!
We learned the fire company lost fire engines and gear. Some of the first responders lost their own homes. What sticks in my mind most about the day are the men and women working so hard to help others when they too lost so much. The kindness, the selfless and the giving are truly amazing and inspiring. It is going to be a long road. I can only say please don't forget them. I know we won't.
After we finished our tasks, said our goodbyes and gave our hugs...we knew we would be back.

Of course we had to stop for pizza! So happy to see they were open!
On our way to the pizza shop, we saw tragedy. I will share some of the pictures because I want those of you who donated and helped us get there to see where we went. Please know these are not for sightseeing, these are homes and property. I truly want you to see that YOU are making a difference in this small town.


I finish this post with a heavy heart. We will be back Union Beach...Stay Strong.
We are currently collecting Lowe's Gift Cards and Fire Equipment for our next visit. If you have a connection to firefighters and can spread the word, please do so. The loss was incredible. The needs are insurmountable.
Before I hit thoughts and prayers go out to those families in Connecticut that are dealing with an unimaginable tragedy. To you I say....You are not alone. We all feel your pain and sorrow. I am so proud to be an American. No matter where you live in America, you are NEVER alone. We are all crying and hurting with you. We are all family.

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