On Saturday, December 8th, 2012, members from several churches in Readington Township traveled to the shore area to help those who were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy at the close of September. Approximately 35 people from the Readington Reformed, Rockaway Reformed and Whitehouse United Methodist Churches met beneath a drizzle-filled gray sky. We filled out waiver forms, arranged car pools, obtained directions and began our 40 mile drive to Union Beach, NJ.
Upon arrival at the Union Beach Municipal Building, we saw pallets of donated water bottles, shelves of canned food and boxes of clothing. After checking in, we obtained their assignment and drove the last mile or so of our journey to Keansburg where we were requested to help a homeowner with her home. We introduced ourselves to Maria. Maria's home had already been cleared of furniture, appliances and personal belongings, only the shell of her house remained. For about four hours the volunteers cut away the bottom four feet of sheet rock from the walls, removed kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and chiseled tiles off the floor.
After completing our de-construction, we stopped and had a quick lunch. The group then collected our tools and with our muddied boots, we headed a few miles to Union Beach to our next assignment. The Union Beach area had received severe damage as well. While heavy construction equipment worked two properties away on what had been a family's home, we spoke with John the homeowner. His request was for us to help him empty a boarded up single-bay garage that he had not yet been able to get to 5 weeks after the hurricane.
For the next hour or so, we raked out the remnants of John’s garage, bagged what we could into heavy duty contractor garbage bags, and dragged the leaking bags and debris to the curb. From that one bay garage, came decades’ worth of dreams and memories, thrown out, well, like garbage. While cleaning up after purging John’s garage, we looked around the neighborhood at the extensive devastation. Homes stood, half demolished, waiting for the next available crane to complete the demolition.
After discussing with John the uncertainty of his future plans, as we all traveled home, knowing that a hot shower and a clean set of clothes waited for us in a clean, well lighted place, we couldn’t feel anything but being overwhelmed. We realized that unless you stand in someone else’s shoes, or their water ravaged home, you can not imagine the loss that many of the folks along the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut shore areas experienced.
If you have the opportunity to send a check, make a meal, or swing a hammer to help the folks out from the aftermath of this hurricane, you should make use of the opportunity. The best Christmas present you could receive this year may not come wrapped in a box with evergreen tissue paper and a white bow.
Imre Vitez, 08 December 2012, on behalf of the volunteers from the Readington Reformed, Rockaway Reformed and Whitehouse United Methodist Churches, Readington Township NJ.