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Toms River

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.

Nobody had ever seen anything like this

Steven Henry has worked for the Toms River Police Department for over 25 years. At the time of Hurricane Sandy, he served as the Incident Commander for all operations related to the storm. In this narrative, Steven recalls his experiences as the hurricane was taking place as well as in its immediate aftermath.

It really was like a movie, I swear

Aurora Silletti is a lifelong resident of the Jersey shore and owner of Ultimate Dance Studio in Toms River. Like many others, she and her family stayed in their home during the storm rather than evacuate. In its aftermath, they were displaced from their home for months and lived with family members while rebuilding. In this narrative, Aurora discusses her thoughts as the storm was taking place as well as the challenges they have faced in rebuilding.

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.

We weren't going to do well

Louis Amoruso is the Director of Public Works and the Assistant Business Administrator for Toms River Township, New Jersey. As a child, he spent his summers in Ortley Beach at his family’s beach house, and in 1976 they moved down full-time. Since 1989, he has lived across the bay in Toms River. Amaruso’s job placed him at the center of the action during Hurricane Sandy. In preparation for the storm, his crews worked to build up the sand dunes in Ortley Beach and other communities on the barrier islands. During the storm, he organized the rescues of nearly 500 people stranded in homes. In the days after, he helped to orchestrate the removal of debris from Ortley and other heavily affected areas. In his narrative, Amaruso speaks to his experiences, emphasizes the importance of dunes and storm water management, and praises how people came together in a time of need.

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.

The perspective of a renter

Patty Harth is a resident of Edison, New Jersey, and she lived in the state for more than half a century. Since her childhood, the shore has been her “summer home.” Like many New Jerseyans, she rents a property on the shore in the same place each summer, hers being in Toms River. Though she did not experience personal loss to property or possessions as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the storm nonetheless has had a tremendous impact on her life and the lives of her summer neighbors, many of whom are year-round residents. In her narrative, she speaks to this sense of loss, as well as to her thoughts regarding the future of the shore.

You got to keep going for the kids

Brian and Jennifer Garofalo live with their children in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy not only caused tremendous damage to their home, but it also destroyed their business, The Beach Bar, on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. For the past two years, the Garofalos have struggled to put their lives back together. They abandoned their business in Seaside permanently after the Funtown Pier fire, and they are still in the process of rebuilding and lifting their home. In their narrative, the couple stresses the importance of family, perseverance, and maintaining hope.

Dialing for dollars

Carolyn Olsen is a licensed social worker and currently works in hospice. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, she and her husband were living in Ocean Beach III in Toms River Township. The storm flooded their home with more than three feet of water, causing severe damage and destroying much of their personal possessions. About two years after the storm, she experienced loss again when her husband passed away. She now resides in Allentown, New Jersey, where she makes plans to rebuild her house on the shore.

We may be a casualty of Hurricane Sandy

Jane Marion was born in 1957 and has spent most of her life living along the Jersey Shore. For nearly thirty years, she has been working as an Emergency Medical Technician with the Dover Brick Beach First Aid Squad. Just before Hurricane Sandy, she evacuated her home in Monterey Beach, Lavallette. As a first responder, she was one of the first to witness the devastation of the storm. In her narrative, she speaks to the work of first responders and the challenges involved with organizing evacuation plans.