Terry Darr and her daughter Christine joined other Wellspringers on a response trip to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Here is the story of their 2 days in Long Island…
On our first day we helped a few homeowners remove sheet rock, sweep it up, bag it, and drag it out to the street. Then we went to the shelter and loaded up my car with food and water to distribute the next day. The stories are so sad but the people are so grateful. Volunteers were so eager to help. The young man in his 20′s that loaded my car lost his home but was still volunteering every night at the shelter and spoke of how much worse others had it.
Thursday night since there were only 4 of us, we stayed at the pastor’s house. Christine was excited to stay on a top bunk. Pastor Phil and his wife were amazing people. To watch people who dedicate their lives to serve others in the name of our Lord is so inspiring.
Friday we were up at 6, and made a big breakfast for our team in the church kitchen. When John Paradis arrived with his son Javan, Christine was so excited. They worked (and played) side-by-side all day.
The biggest immediate issue for homeowners that had 10-12 feet of water in their homes, is removing the sheet rock before mold starts. Since the demolition work was the main focus, and that was no place for kids, Christine and Javan were able to help in other ways. First we drove to the Freeport waterfront. People had boats land on their front lawns. They can’t have power restored because their circuit breakers and outlets were under water. We just listened to people, handed out water, snacks, coffee to homeowners, workers, etc.
I walked up to a homeowner in his driveway to see if he wanted anything. His name was Jim. He was pleasant looking, in his 40′s with beautiful blue eyes. He lost the bottom floor of his home, has no power or heat and no idea when he can get it back. Yet all he could speak of was how grateful he was, that he was fine, and how so many others had it so much worse. He was so “at peace”. He asked what we were doing, and he was saying how grateful he was for all the volunteers, red cross, etc. When I asked if he needed anything, he completely caught me off guard when he said, “Can I have a hug?” his eyes filling up with tears. I said, “Of course” and gave him a big hug, said “God bless you” and was on my way. I knew in that moment that although we put in 2 days of volunteering, that hug might have been the only reason God put it on my heart to go to Freeport, LI this week. It was worth it all.
After serving lunch to our work crews, we brought some clothes to the elementary school then headed to Long Beach. Normally about 20 minutes but it took over an hour because there are no street lights. There, we shoveled sand out of homes and yards. Yes, out of homes! 150,000 people were still without power. There were boarded up storefronts, abandoned cars, military vehicles, etc.
In Long Beach we met one person after another who said they were very lucky. The basics. “I am alive and the sun is shining” was a comment from a woman whose entire bottom floor was filled with sand. The sports car in her garage that was buried in sand had a vanity plate “BYTHEH2O”.
The disaster is that people’s cars there are all totaled People that do have cars can’t get gas. Their power cannot be restored until their homes have been rewired. They are cold. All the hotels are full. It goes on and on… Also, people wont leave their homes because of all the looting. It’s an ominous feeling to be driving around a completely dark town with downed power lines, boarded up storefronts, military vehicles and the constant sound of ambulances and fire trucks.
I had been wondering why more people didn’t evacuate. The answer is that they have lived there for a hundred years and nothing like this had ever happened before.
The church where we setup our base camp had a potluck dinner for us our last night there. Pastor prayed more words of gratitude. More amazing sweet people. Many from his congregation ate with us. One of them lost all her clothes in the flood.
I went there hoping to bless people in need and had tried to prepare my heart to see hopelessness and despair. But they blessed me! To see the gratitude in people that have such huge challenges was humbling. I drove home listening to worship music and feeling so grateful. There is so much good in the world. God is good!
(Pictured: Long Island homes, and Wellspring Kids Christine Darr & Javan Paradis)