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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.

Paying it Forward

Gina Cavallo lives in West Orange, New Jersey. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, she used her background in healthcare to help displaced homeowners in Ortley Beach and Lavallette. Seeing the degree of need, she founded the Paying It Forward Foundation, a grassroots initiative to provide relief assistance to those affected by the storm. Over the past two years, Paying It Forward has helped numerous families affected by Sandy to restore their homes and rebuild their lives. In this narrative, Gina discusses her work on the shore and the challenges of the rebuilding process.

It's detour city

Elizabeth Phillips was born in Newark, New Jersey but moved to Lavallette in 1974, where she was living at the time of Hurricane Sandy. She evacuated right before the storm, but she wasn’t able to return to her flooded home until three weeks later. In her narrative, she discusses challenges that are common to many on the shore struggling to recover, such as negotiating with insurance companies, applying for grants, and making sense of new building regulations.

We think, we can, we did

Angelina (Gigi) Liaguno-Dorr is the owner of Jakeabob’s Bay restaurant, located on the waterfront in Union Beach, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy completely destroyed the business, leveling three-quarters of the building and washing parts of the tiki bar, the deck, and even menus across more than eight city blocks. More than two years later, Gigi is still struggling to secure insurance and loan money to finance rebuilding. In the meantime, she is working with A Spoonful of Hope, a local soup kitchen, and is very active in the town’s recovery. Remarkably, Gigi has been able to stay strong through the process. She hopes to reopen this summer using a mobile kitchen, in time to capture some of the seasonal business.

We can't stop the storm

Dennis Quinn is Chief of Staff in the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Created in 2006, the Office is charged with overseeing statewide emergency response coordination and working to build resiliency against a host of threats to the state and its residents. Throughout Hurricane Sandy, Dennis helped to coordinate the efforts of state, federal, and private sector agencies in responding to the needs of affected New Jerseyans. In his narrative, he speaks of the steps that were taken to prepare for the storm, and he assesses the success of the Governor and state agencies in the initial response to the storm’s aftermath.

The Upper Shores Library

June Schneider has worked for the Ocean County Library System since 1991. Currently she serves as Branch Manager of the Upper Shores Library in Lavallette and the Reading Center in Bay Head. A native of New York, she has lived on the Jersey Shore since 1986. Hurricane Sandy spared her home in Pine Beach, but it caused tremendous damage to the two branch libraries, resulting in them being closed for months. In her narrative, June speaks of how the storm has affected the libraries as well as the communities they serve. She also talks about the recovery efforts she has organized in collaboration with FEMA and the library system that earned her the ‘Grace under Pressure’ Award at her annual staff development day.

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.

A local weather sensation

Bob “Weatherman” Burger is a longtime resident of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. After retiring from the Island Heights Police Department in the 1990s, he focused his energies on a long-time hobby: meteorology. He developed a Facebook page to provide local weather forecasts to Point Pleasant and surrounding communities. During Hurricane Sandy, thousands of citizens from the Jersey Shore relied heavily on for storm related information. A year after the storm, Burger discloses what it was like to be an unsung hero during a time of crisis.

It's not what they expected

Lauren Wanko is a reporter for NJTV News, the nightly newscast in New York City and New Jersey. She is also a lifelong New Jersey resident and currently lives in Neptune. As a reporter she covers news stories throughout New Jersey, and she was one of the lead reporters for NJTV News during Superstorm Sandy. Following Sandy, she covered the Seaside Boardwalk fire, and has kept in contact with many victims along the shore. In her narrative, she talks about her experiences reporting on the storm as well as recovery and rebuilding.