Hurricane Sandy ripped through our state with devastating force, leaving behind rubble, destruction of our coastline, loss of homes and broken dreams. Eight months after the natural disaster displaced residents and left our shore towns to rebuild, the recovery is still underway.
Mold, sand piles and debris are just a small portion of what’s left behind. I’m sure we all remember running to the stores, buying generators, milk, bread, candles and canned goods, praying to be prepared enough for the massive storm headed our way. But, no amount of material items could have prepared our shore residents for the aftermath of this natural disaster. With already too-high water levels combined with damaging winds and unusual amounts of rain, Sandy ripped through with pent-up rage built long and hard from her trip up the coast.
Nearly a year after the storm, residents are still reeling from their loss.
Over 800 volunteers from across the country are headed our way with not the anger of Sandy, but instead, with hearts of gold and a mission to rebuild our shore devastated by the effects of the storm.
There was one dilemma. Where could we house all of the volunteers? Two hundred men and women a week for the next four weeks will require a place to stay to wake up early and start chiseling away at the damage. It was decided there would be no better place than Delanco Camp nestled in the comfort of Tabernacle.
An inspector was sent to the site to determine if the camp would be a sufficient place to house the volunteers.
The camp laying on acres and acres of land, surrounded by an endless amount of trees, a gorgeous lake full of wildlife and a history lengthy enough to make you want to sit and listen, would no doubt be the perfect location. But, with the abundant history, comes deterioration and a desperate need for some upgrades.
With the amount of work left to be done at the shore, the Home Depot Foundation wanted to step in and assist our residents with anything they might need to rebuild. Home Depot offered to provide the manpower and materials to allow Delanco Camp to become a safe, enjoyable stay for the massive amount of volunteers dedicated to the rebuild.
“Since its formation in 2002, The Home Depot Foundation has granted more than $340 million to nonprofit organizations improving homes and lives in local communities. To learn more and see the associates in action, visit www.homedepotfoundation.org, follow them on Twitter at @homedepotfdn, and like them on Facebook at facebook.com/homedepotfoundation.”
A few phone calls were made and Washington Township store manager, Kevin Flaherty became the right man for the job. Immediately jumping on the opportunity, Flaherty said, “Whatever it’s going to take.”
He started making calls and gathering workers eager to participate in the effort.
Equipped daily with five to seven employees, they began chipping away at Delanco’s large dining hall. The employees came across several obstacles – obviously a given when dealing with older construction. Once they began tearing up the floor, they realized the subfloor was damaged. With every intention of making the floor last for years to come, they went the whole mile and repaired and patched the subfloor, placed new tiles, and gave the room a surrounding base board.
Given only a few weeks, crunch time is an understatement. The first round of volunteers are due Sunday.
Employees, Chris Slimm, Bob Reinert, Adam Silvers, Chris Lista, Will Salmon, Matt Boyle, Matt Chance, Randy Slemmer and Devon Grieco, are putting in at least 8-10 hours a day, not including travel time. At this point they’re averaging 299 man hours, but expect to exceed 400 hours. These employees forwent their shifts in order to take the hour and a half trek each day, one way, for the operation.
In addition to the $2,000 given by the Home Depot Foundation, the Washington Township store has provided an additional $13,000 in labor and materials due to the extent of the repairs needed.
Delanco is a beautiful camp, there’s no denying that. But, to provide adequate housing for the volunteers involved in the Sandy Relief project and also for campers in years to come, it was going to take some work.
Without Home Depot’s generosity and its employees, this effort may not have succeeded.
Flaherty says of the reason his store became involved, “It’s one of our core values with Home Depot. We live and die by our values and also making that emotional connection with the community.”
With the support and untiring efforts of Home Depot #0942 and its employees, volunteers are on their way knowing that they have somewhere comfortable and safe to stay while repairing Sandy’s aftermath.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me at Jennkaysen@gmail.com