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Recovery and Rebuilding

I'm lucky that I live in this town

Patricia Donahue lives in Toms River, New Jersey, and is executive director of the People’s Pantry Relief Center. After riding out Hurricane Sandy in her home, she went to a local shelter to check up on members of her community. She ended up taking the lead in developing the People’s Pantry, the first full-time relief center set up after the storm. In her narrative, she speaks of her experiences in helping with the recovery effort commends her community for the support it has provided to those affected.

Shore 2 Recover

Toni Pecunia lives in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, where she also manages a café. Hurricane Sandy left her home severely damaged and her business without electricity for about two weeks. Seeing the devastation that the storm inflicted on her community, she decided to found a non-profit organization, Shore 2 Recover, to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. In her narrative, she speaks of her experiences during the storm, as well as the work of the relief organization she founded.

The People's Pantry

Edward Burke is a resident of Toms River, New Jersey. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he served as the Director of Operations for People’s Pantry Relief Center. The People’s Pantry, founded just days after the storm, helped to support affected families by providing food and basic essentials as well as access to a host of recovery agencies. It has since grown into the largest and most comprehensive relief center in the state. In this narrative, Edward recalls the night of the storm as well as the many challenges that faced those involved in the recovery process.

The disaster after the disaster is worse than the disaster

Michele Donato is an attorney who lives and works in Lavallette, New Jersey. She represents several community associations and individuals on the barrier island who are struggling to rebuild. In her narrative, she talks about her work in representing clients who are facing delays and difficulties in obtaining land use and construction approvals. She discusses how funding programs are tangled and confused, how recovery has been very slow and inconsistent, and how the bureaucratic disaster that followed after the storm continues to leave many parts of the shore in disrepair, with incomplete houses, vacant properties, and a less than robust economy. She also mentions how the National Guard, without declaration, forced her family to leave their home after the storm.

We are in the business of children

Lisa Hannah is the Principal and Director of Curriculum at Belmar Elementary School in Belmar, New Jersey. Although the school only lost electricity in the storm, the town itself faced devastation. As a school principal, Lisa Hannah became involved in the storm response and recovery to ensure all her students were safe and provided with necessary supplies. Beyond providing tangible supplies, Lisa Hannah also offered emotional support to help students recover from the trauma of the storm.

When the going gets tough, Union Beach get going

Paul Smith Jr. is mayor of Union Beach, New Jersey, a place he has called home since 1956. This town of just over 6,000 residents experienced some of the worst destruction from Hurricane Sandy. In a span of just 45 minutes, floodwater from the bay washed away 52 homes entirely, 100 made another 100 inhabitable due to being washed off their foundations, and severely damaged another 400 by inundating them with over six feet of water. In his narrative, Paul speaks to the preparations taken before the storm, the damage the town has faced, and the progress that has been made in rebuilding.

From New Orleans to New Jersey

Jeremy Nevitt is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey who lives in Williamstown, New Jersey. An inland town in Gloucester County, Williamstown survived Hurricane Sandy for the most part unscathed. Jeremy’s experience with the storm comes from his volunteer work at the College. As a student he had taken part in several volunteer trips to New Orleans to aid in those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Suddenly, he found himself doing the same kind of work, but in his home state. In his narrative, Jeremy compares and contrasts the damage of the storms as well as response and rebuilding efforts in the two states.

The Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group

Bridget Holmes is the Assistant Executive Director of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG), which she has worked with since July of 2013. At the time of Hurricane Sandy, she was working as a youth group leader for a parish in Point Pleasant. In the aftermath of the storm, she become involved in recovery efforts, and in July 2013 joined the newly created OCLTRG. As part of that organization, she has been able to utilize her master’s degree and certification in counselling to help over 500 families recover from Hurricane Sandy. In her narrative, she discusses the role of the OCLTRG in the community and the many contributions it has made to people struggling to rebuild their lives.

A preacher and a bar owner

Carl Williamson is a minister at the Gateway Church of Christ in Holmdel, New Jersey. Just days after the storm, Carl spearheaded the creation of Gateway Disaster Response, a ministry aimed at coordinating recovery efforts in the nearby town of Union Beach. A largely blue-collar community on the Raritan Bay, Union Beach received some of the worst devastation from Hurricane Sandy. In his narrative, Carl discusses the origins of the ministry, its work over the past two years, and how his personal faith has helped him in his work.

A precarious, dangerous place to build and protect

Sarah Bowen works as an Urban Planner and Project Manager at Michael Baker International, a firm that provides engineering services for public and private sector clients worldwide. For the past several years, she has worked on projects aimed at helping Jersey Shore communities to mitigate the effects of floods and other disasters, including the Ocean County Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Long-Term Recovery Plan for Ocean County. In her narrative, Sarah discusses how Hurricane Sandy has affected shore communities, and how she is working to ensure that such destruction is avoided in the future.