Four Months After Sandy
This weekend I had the priviledge of hosting three different work teams, working with three different organizations: WeBuild New York, Grace In Sandy, and The Mastic-Shirley COAD. Hurricane Sandy is no longer a national news story, and many people on Long Island have gone back to their normal, pre-storm, lives. But there are many, many people who are still hurting, and there are great needs that are even now beginning to surface.
This weekend I spent most of my time with the team working in Mastic Beach. We met some phenomenal people living in tough situations:
- I met an old couple who are trying to live a normal life while their home continues to grow mold. He had built the house with his own hands, and did an amazing job of it. He had finally “finished” the house (after forty years) about a year before the storm came through. Talking to the man, you could tell that he loved the house, but was aware of his diminished capabilities when it comes to rebuilding. His wife was quite concerned about him, she realized that this house she loves has some issues, but realizes that the man she loves isn’t exactly able to fix those things that need to be fixed… add to that the recent discovery of a tumor on his brain, and she is clearly worried. The solution that they have come up with has been to put everything back the way it was: rugs, furniture, bedding, and live like they did before the storm, all the while the floors buckle beneath them and mold continues to grow. They have come to realize that they need help, but not the full depth of their need…
- I met a middle-aged mother of four whose husband is in the hospital recovering from major surgery. The hospital won’t release him until their home is mold-free and livable. This family needs major work done to their house… starting with replacing the floor joists. As one of our teams descended on her home, tearing up the flooring and finding more work to be done, she wept with one of our team leaders and told us how “FEMA hasn’t helped us, the government won’t help us, the only people who are interested in helping us are the churches…” When we left her home, we gave her a list of next steps and a temporary floor. While she still has much to do before her husband is released, she has a bit more hope than before, and we are working with volunteer teams to find a team to continue the work at her home.
- I met an Vietnam vet who lives in one of the areas most impacted by the storm. As we spoke with him, he gradually opened up and let us do a handful of odd jobs around his home, before showing us the inside of his home. His home is currently heated by an old potbelly stove, and a couple of old space heaters. His oil tank was destroyed by the storm, and he has been unable to replace it as of yet. He told us that he has decided to leave his home until the spring, and then come back to make the repairs needed on his home. During a conversation with one of the crew working with him he broke down in tears, looked directly at the man he was speaking with, and said “I have never felt this loved before… thank you.” We exchanged contact info, and he promised to let us know when he returned to the area so that we could help him fix his home.
- I met a police officer who is close to retirement. Working in Brooklyn, he is capable of fixing his home… but has limited time. He has spent every off day that he has had in his home, tearing out mold and slowly putting it back together while his family stays in a rented home several miles away. Mastic Beach is an area that was protected by barrier islands that had kept the community safe from storms for years. When Sandy flattened those islands he lost his cars and his first floor had five feet of water in it. He was underinsured by at least half, causing him to spend his Saturdays and Sundays trying to put their lives back in order.
The needs are out here, the communities are hurting, and people need your help. This is a fantastic time for the church to be The Church by stepping up and caring for the hurting, restoring hope, and being the hands of Christ. We need skilled labor, people who can follow direction, and people who can care for those that were rocked by this storm.
Are you interested in seeing how you might be able to serve?