The year previous we were hit with Hurricane Irene which was projected to be much worse than it was. We picked up, cleaned up and moved on easily. We were praying for the same outcome.
Months before we were hit with a Derecho. We were without power for a week and our area suffered wide spread destruction. Other than the power outage we came out okay.
But this storm turned out to be so much worse than anyones wildest dreams. Our home came away relatively damage free - but those around us were not so lucky. The damage spread from near and far. It was unfathomable. Icon images were floating in the ocean. Peoples homes were GONE.
I worked the over night into the day dispatching. I took call after call from people who did not evacuate flood zones and were taking on water at a rapid rate. Time after time I had to tell people help was not on its way. There was no way to send people in due to the salt water and these people were suppose to evacuate. I listened to crews telling me that the boardwalk was floating down major streets. I heard stories of the ocean meeting the bay.
My heart hurt more and more as the night wore on. What I didn't know was the worst was yet to come. When morning broke and you could see the damage. That's when I about lost it.
I went home and my husband was sent into work. We had no power so I sat on Facebook and I saw pictures of places where we spend our daily lives- destroyed. I heard friends stories that they lost everything. I cried. I cry now thinking about how I felt when I saw the place we were married was destroyed.
That's when I knew I wanted to do something for our friends and neighbors who were not as lucky as we were. Who were hurting and needed healing. I had a clothing drive. I had no idea what this clothing drive would turn into. Never in my craziest dreams did I ever think it would become as large as it did. Never did I think we would help and touch lives from near and far.
We helped countless people. We came together to help our community come back together. I received more donations than my home could even handle.
My living room was filled to the ceiling with clothes, food, and personal items. Donations poured in from friends and strangers near and far.
People drove to my house and asked for help. We filled their cars and then more cars would come and drop even more off.
We filled ambulances to the ceiling.
When my home couldn't take any more we rented two storage units and filled them to the ceiling.
When those were full we filled a coworkers garage.
When that I full I actually had to ask people to stop giving. It was the most insane experience. We were overwhelmed. People helped though and we were able to help people.
Tears are running down my face thinking of how generous people were. How people came from near and far to help. How people volunteer day after day. How a group of women sat on my living room floor and bagged and stacked pile after pile of donations.
How amazing the experience was. And how I pray that I never have to go through anything like it again.
These are just a few of the pictures of the people that came to help. Volunteered their time and lent a hand. I will never forget the way people reacted when we helped clothe their kids. The feeling will never leave me.
Ambulances filled to the ceiling came to my home for drop offs.
I was so inspired by people helping people.
The place we were married. I am beyond thrilled to report that they rebuilt
Garages filled up fast.
My friend Patti knitted me hats.
Friends that didn't live here sent gift cards from across the coast.
People volunteer countless hours.
There really was no room left. So many gave. So many more received.
In times of trial and tribulation I am reminded of how much people give.
I leave you with a quote from Mr Rogers-
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world."