3 years later: Hurricane Sandy haunts

By November 3, 2015

USA (EFCA) — A group of four Hurricane Sandy survivors in Staten Island, New York, sat around a table at Bible study a few weeks ago with panic and fear in their eyes.

Hurricane Joaquin, a category 4 cyclone, was churning in the Atlantic, and almost every forecast model had it making landfall with significant impact to Staten Island. It was just three years ago, on October 29, 2012, that one of the largest storms to ever hit the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy, made landfall and wiped away their homes and impacted them forever.

(Photo courtesy Evangelical Free Church of America)

(Photo courtesy Evangelical Free Church of America)

One of these survivors had just moved back in to his house, another was about to move back, and yet another was just about to get started on rebuilding her new home. They were not ready for another storm like Sandy, not yet, and maybe not ever. So they prayed.

They prayed first that the storm would move out to sea and not make landfall anywhere on the East Coast. They prayed for the hearts of those sitting around that table,and they prayed for God to give comfort to so many that were still reeling from Sandy.

God answered those prayers as Joaquin made its way out to sea..

It’s been three long years since Hurricane Sandy–three years of waiting for help, working on their homes, and seeing progress made slowly but surely. But as one homeowner, George, said, “We’re still not home, and I guess we’re getting tired now, kind of burned out.”

Most of the aid organizations have left Staten Island. ReachGlobal is one of the few still there, helping to bring hope to these survivors: hope that they will soon be able to return to their homes, and hope that there are still people out there that have not forgotten them.

ReachGlobal Crisis Response met George and Pat in June of 2014. George was working on putting dry wells in their yard before he started on rebuilding the house so that when it rained, the newly-repaired house wouldn’t flood. Since Hurricane Sandy, the yard flooded each time it rained. He needed help hauling rocks to the yard, so volunteers hauled approximately 40 tons of rocks in 5 gallon buckets into the yard for the entire summer of 2014.

Now when it rains, the yard no longer floods, and the house is being rebuilt one day at a time.

This year they have seen walls go up, painting done, a new roof, new doors, porches built, floors tiled, and kitchen cabinets put in. They are “very thankful for all the help, and [they’re] looking forward to having all those hundreds of volunteers over for dinner when [they’re] done.”

But so many people have not had any help at all yet. Just a week ago we met Daryl and his wife. Like George, Daryl has been working on his house with no outside help since the storm. They were amazed that three years after the storm there are still people that have not forgotten them. As they showed us around their home, they told us about the 13 feet of water that pushed them to the second level of their home where they rode the storm out.

Daryl showed us the skylight that was their emergency escape route to the roof where they were rescued by boat. He remembered as if it was yesterday. They showed us the work that they have done and the work that is left to do in their home, and we were blessed to have the privilege of praying with them for a quick return to the home they love so much.

Five days later, there was a team of seven people hanging sheet rock in their house! A supplier had just delivered a load of sheet rock, insulation, lumber, and other materials that were funded by another faith-based aid organization. He said he was a little numb and overwhelmed by the speed in which the help came to them. To us, we knew it was God. He provides just when we need it. And to Him be all the glory.

You can be a part of giving people hope after crises such as Hurricane Sandy. Your help has impact for the Kingdom of God.

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