Sunday, November 11, 2012

Helping after Sandy, part I

Elder & Sister Dixon preparing to go help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

If you are following the Dixons, you might wonder if there is anything else we are going to talk about besides Hurricane Sandy.  I'm sure there will be, but for now it's still having an impact on our Institute schedule and other activities in general.

Yesterday we were blessed to be able to participate in a Mormon Helping Hands project in  Union Beach, NJ.  We gained much more than we gave.

Mission President Jeppson started us off at the Eatontown chapel, where we got the yellow shirts to help us be identified to others and ourselves.  It's actually a useful tool.  We were subdivided and sent to different locations.  Rog and I went in a small group with the Stake President Greg Stokes.
President Jon Jeppson rallies the troops.

Alex Boye and Sister Jeppson.

These are mostly non-missionary volunteers and our friends from the Spanish wards.

They are ready to go!
We live 20 minutes to the west/left of "A".  We all met at Eatontown ("B")  then dispersed to our various assignments, ("C"/Union Beach, for us).

Rog and I were assigned to two houses in the town of Union Beach.
 "In late October of 2012, a mandatory evacuation was declared in preparation for the perfect storm Hurricane Sandy. Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City and dealt severe damage along the New Jersey coastline, causing severe damage to the town, destroying at least 50 homes, making at least 62 more uninhabitable, and over 250 homes sustained substantial damage. Union Beach was ranked second in total damage dealt to towns across New Jersey, only behind Atlantic City." (Union Beach, Wikipedia)
A welcome message above and Sandy trash below.

This was the only view we got of the water.
 Recent news reports showed desperate people in NY who are furious about the lack of response from utility companies.  If you have been waiting for 11 days for power I can see how you would be angry too.  Perhaps people without TV do not know just how widespread and complicated the damage was.  We were impressed with the number of utility trucks we saw in or near Union Beach.  Here are a few sample photos we took in the morning. 

A convoy of 6-7 utility trucks.


After arriving we stopped at the Union Beach Borough Hall and Police Station to register and identify the homes we would help.  We then joined the stream of volunteers walking to their assigned homes to "muck out."  There appeared to be many hundreds of helpers, including people from out of state, children, and even other neighbors who were also affected.   It was a gratifying experience to be one of the small army.

Convoy of volunteers!  Helpers were everywhere.
  As we walked a mile or so toward the beach all streets were lined with the contents of the dwellings.  As someone said, the homes were turned inside out...all the life treasures and furnishings were on the outside.

A lifetime of goods...just tossed away!  Anything the toxic water touched could not be saved.

Someone decided it was better to quit now.  More volunteers continue to come.

 To be continued......

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What's happening from our view

What's happening in NJ from our point of view: We've heard from many of our Institute kids and they are fine although some just got power today. The branch president is still w/o power and yet has extra people staying at his home. Church has been cancelled for tomorrow in our building because it is still without power and there is a travel restriction in the area. Amazingly, church in Toms River can be held, even though Toms River is near the coast and was hit hard.  Other local churches are just having a testimony meeting.  The major problem is the number of downed trees that take power lines or structures with them.  Restoring power sometimes means fixing connections to each home.  There are a LOT of big leafy trees here!

 Gas is being rationed. One student spent 3.5 hours in a gas line this morning then found the station was out of gas. He then spent 1.5 hrs in another line and was 3 from the front when he called. Hope he made it!  Many people have been offering help from VA to Toronto to PA. Guess the heavy lifting work needs to be done first. Lots of power lines are still down and dangerous. People are reaching out to help neighbors. Personally, Roger and I are grateful for our blessings: the lights are on, the laundry is done, stove works and we have homemade bran muffins and enchiladas, a hot shower, we have phone service and can use the Internet, the furnace is on. These and many more great conveniences are but a dream and a memory for many people here.