Despite the devastation Hurricane Sandy wrought across the Northeastern seaboard, FA is back in session and readier than ever to get its hands dirty in post-Sandy service. While the two-week break was needed, the circumstances that brought on the hiatus are devastating and unfortunate. After 10 days without power, Friends got it’s electricity back Tuesday evening thanks to the tireless work of a crew hailing all the way from Tennessee. While the FA community returned to relative normalcy, many thousands across the region continue to be in distress due to the impact of the super-storm.
After harrowing winds of 70 mph and a massive storm surge, Hurricane Sandy died out leaving a damaged Northeast. Hurricane Sandy left floods, destroyed homes, deaths, and power outages in its wake all along the coasts of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York City, and Long Island. Along the Jersey shore homes have floated away. In Nassau and Suffolk County, houses and boardwalks have been decimated with flooding up to seven feet high. In New York City the subways, residential and commercial buildings’ garages are filled to the ceiling with water. In Greenwich, Connecticut four multimillion-dollar mansions on the water burned and were completely razed. Towns hit the hardest include Long Beach, Port Jefferson, Breezy Point, South Side, Babylon Village, South Mantoloking (NJ), and Monmouth City (NJ).
Ms. Schoman, who lives in Babylon Village, stated, “Hundreds of families south of Montauk Highway are unable to live in their homes due to the high water surges that came in during Sandy. While there was definitely downed tree damage, the larger issue was the fact that homes were destroyed by the high wind and high waters.”
Homes have been lifted off of their foundations and drifted away. Families have been left with nothing but the clothing on their backs. People can be found digging through the mess of broken homes and rubble, searching for photographs and any objects that represent the life that has been so brutally disrupted. Dwayne Taylor, a senior living in Baldwin, remarked, “the amount of flooding and damage has scarred and devastated the many families affected throughout Long Island.” Aggie Jones, FA’s Associate Director of Athletics, saw most vividly the terrible impact of Hurricane Sandy and a community bound together in response.
Ms. Jones divulged, “I had the right mind to save my family pictures with many memories and I am so grateful for that; they can never ever be replaced. I have seen many kind people doing kind things for each other and it warms my heart. Neighbors being neighbors, helping each other.”
Her home was left wrecked; yet, despite this she is keeping a positive attitude. Optimism and unified communities proved to be some of the brighter human stories in the midst of the storm’s darkest moments.
Despite the horrifying consequences of the storm, organizations and volunteers are embracing the annihilated towns and stepping in to assist. Families who have been devastated themselves are opening their hearts and homes to others who are in need. Communities are unifying to begin picking up the pieces. Just days before the election, President Obama interrupted his campaigning to focus on the victims of the hurricane and visited towns affected in New Jersey. With President Obama’s instruction, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel have been deployed throughout towns and cities hit by the hurricane and are leading search and rescue missions, repairing communications apparati, providing door-to-door food drop offs for victims, and identifying damaged homes for repair. Through FEMA, response operations are being executed efficiently and communities are beginning to be rebuilt. Along with the federal government, many religious organizations are collecting food and clothing and distributing the essentials to traumatized victims.
The FA community has responded in extraordinary ways as well, honoring its Quaker roots by taking action through service. In a conversation with Mr. Morris, he voiced, “The FA Community has been remarkable in rallying to help others. Over the last two weeks, people have reached out to each other, and we are beginning our broader outreach. Helping others is so woven into the fabric of FA, so I know that in the weeks and months ahead, we will be making a difference.” Families within the community have made donations, sandwiches, traveled to hard-hit communities to physically lend a hand, as well as support. Clubs such as Diversity and the WATCH committee as well as students are collecting coats, candy, food, sweatshirts, and essentials such as toiletries.
Morgan Rielly, a student who recently started raising money for gift cards for Sandy victims explained her mindset: “I was upset about losing power and wifi connection. But after looking at people who have lost everything, I am really humbled.”
Please contact Rachel Hall or Ron Baskind for more information about ways to get involved within or outside of the FA community.
Check out photos from Sandy here.