Monday, February 25, 2013

Down and Dirty in Ortley Beach: Take 2

Feb 23, 2013
If you missed Take 1 Find it Here!
The plan for the day was pumping out work orders from homeowners, getting dirty and getting things done!  The weather was horrible, rainy and cold....but that didn't stop over 90 amazing people from coming out to help.
Before I tell you about my trip, I want to post about an event that went on the night before. My friends raised 5000.00 for Sandy Victims. Whaaat?
A local restaurant here in Lancaster, PA The Waterfront was flooded during Hurricane Sandy.
Local friends Sam and Billy Baldwin had a plan! They wanted to raise money for NJ and help the restaurant. They decided to be guest bartenders for the night! What a fun event that turned out to be. They received raffle donations from businesses near and far.

Thank you to all of you who donated and those of you who came out and had a great time for a great cause! I live in an amazing community and feel very blessed. I am sure Sam and Billy are still recovering from the long night!  
The following photos were taken with a heavy heart. They were taken for those of you who donated or helped in any way. This is so that you can see first hand who your donations are helping. I say this every time I post photos....they were not taken by a tourist....I took them personally when volunteering in the muck and rain. I took them for you because the media is not out there. This is what it looks like 4 months a town full of mostly primary homes and families......

The empty spaces you see are from homes that were washed out to sea or pushed off their foundation and landed in the middle of the highway. 9 out of 10 homes you see in the photos above have red stickers on them. They will be demolished. If the homeowner can afford to they really want to, can they really afford to? No one is getting their insurance money due to overload on the systems and they are unsure of when that money will be released. If the homes don't have a red sticker and can be salvaged, they must be raised onto pilings 12 feet, which is not covered by insurance and I cannot imagine the cost. If they cannot afford to do this, they will be forced to sell but who is going to buy. It is such a mess and has affected so many people. The morale is bad for good reason. Businesses are not able to open back up and so many have lost their jobs. Please check out this youtube video....a homeowner tells her story.
It is month 4. I see little if any progression as a whole since I was there 4 weeks ago. Although I do know that many volunteers are there daily doing their best to get things done. I assure you I see no government assistance. Oh right....they started work on the new boardwalk. I get that it was to boost morale and get the business owners back. I disagree with the boardwalk being a priority when there are so many families left homeless. Why not spend the money getting local families back into their homes first. Well, who am I....not a government official thank goodness!
Can you imagine what's in the water?
We started our day early in the rain. Yuck. A Truck load of supplies and food in tow from a few of my generous friends! A quick stop at Wawa to pick up Ziti, Supplies and Gift Cards from a few high school friends! Thank you are amazing!
We arrived at our favorite Americorps trailer where we were greeted by our friends!

 After playing in the rain and digging in the sand, we headed to The People's Pantry to assist in setting up their new distribution and long term recovery center. The pantry is a place where local residents who were affected by the hurricane can come to get free supplies, food and advice. Donations are coming in from all over the country. We were lucky enough to get a shipment of tools from Sears so we put together some tool boxes!


I can't end my blog without saying this.....for those of you who think everything is all's not. You just don't hear about it in the news. I don't think it will ever be better. I think it is forever different.
For those of you who go to NJ for summer vacations, I think the Shore as you know it has forever changed. Lives have been devastated. History has been destroyed. I now see fear in the faces of the people that I meet. True fear that their lives are never going to be whole again. People like you and I. They are no different.
I cannot even imagine being in their situation. Living in a hotel or a tent with my family in 20 degree weather, jobless. Wondering when and if I will ever get to go home. Wondering when and if the government will help me. Wondering where the tax money I have work for and paid has gone. Wondering how my life could have changed so fast, so furiously. Wondering if my home that has been handed down in my family for generations will be left standing.
I am blessed with the opportunity to see smiles and hope restored when that same face of fear and hopelessness sees the volunteers pouring in. Amazing people who come from all over to help. Bringing food and supplies with each trip. I wish I had money to fix it all. I don't. What I do have are amazing friends, family, community and co-workers who always step up and GIVE so that I can GO! I am forever grateful. You all know who you are and I want you to know no matter how big or small your donations are....they are HUGE and YOU are making a difference.
I would love for you to come with me anytime. I promise this....that small dent in your car, that leaky water faucet, that couch with the stain on it, that color paint you don't like in your bedroom will be things you will be thankful for!!! I say that, because I am now thankful for all of those things!
Love, Stacey   

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