Stunned N.J. towns reach for hope

November 6, 2012—Charlie and Eileen Brennan are sitting on steps of their house in Belmar, a coastal New Jersey town where they’ve lived for 31 years. Taking a break from cleaning up debris in their yard and dragging damaged items from indoors, they eat a lunch of cold ham sandwiches they pull from a cooler between them.

Since Hurricane Sandy struck a week ago, they’ve been living with their son, a two hour’s drive away in Delaware. They drive back every other day to keep dragging out more of the possessions they’ve gathered over their 51 years of marriage.

Eileen sighs: “I just wish we’d get power back.” Like other people in coastal New Jersey, she waits in a chilly state of limbo for power, gasoline, cash, and the other engines of everyday life.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, the Brennans were under an evacuation order. They ignored it. “I’ll never do that again,” said Eileen.

Her husband looks at her: “I’d stay again. I’d do it.”

His wife elbows him: “Then you’ll be waiting here all by yourself.”

All by himself. All by themselves. For many coastal New Jersey residents, the sense of isolation is still pronounced, one week after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.

Bishop John Schol of the Greater New Jersey Conference assured people that they were not alone. “Most of us haven’t been able to view television,” he said. Schol was working with UMCOR to develop a plan for relief and long-term recovery, which is expected to take up to three years.

Schol acknowledged that Hurricane Sandy had impacted not only the physical structures of the region but its psyche as well. “The work that we’re doing is more than brick and mortar,” he said, “and more than hammer and nails. We are going to help heal the whole person on their path to long-term recovery.”

UMCOR has contributed a $60,000 grant to the Greater New Jersey Conference that will go toward relief and long-term recovery.

United Methodist churches in the Greater New Jersey Conference have opened their doors to serve as shelters, meal stations, and safe havens in which to simply charge a cell phone or share stories of survival.

Meanwhile, residents of the New Jersey coastline are coming to terms with the reality that their existence will never be the same.

Yet glimmers of hope for the long term were returning to the shore towns. Paul Mulshine, a resident of Bay Head, was able to jog with his dog, Betty, on the beach for the first time since the storm hit. “In 43 years of living here, I realize I’ve never seen it quite this way,” he said. “In some ways the beach will repair itself but in other ways the landscape here will never be the same.”

You can help those who are wrestling with relief and long-term recovery in the wake of super-storm Sandy. Assemble and deliver urgently needed cleaning buckets to an UMCOR Relief Supply Network depot near you. And give to US Disaster Response, Hurricanes 2012, Advance #3021787.

*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Racism
The Rev. David Maldonado. Video image courtesy of IMU Latina (Iglesia Metodista Unida Latina) via YouTube by UM News.

Church must hear Hispanic/Latino voices

The lack of voices from Latin America represents a major gap in the global conversations occurring in The United Methodist Church.
Mission and Ministry
Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (in red stole) and a team of United Methodists pray over generators for the Bicol Philippines Conference. The generators from United Methodist Communications are being loaned to churches to provide free charging to communities affected by a series of powerful typhoons in the Philippines. Photo by Jerome Mercado.

United Methodists rally to help typhoon survivors

From sheltering evacuees to raising money, gathering supplies and sharing generators, Filipino United Methodists and church partners are embracing those affected by recent storms.
Mission and Ministry
A nurse at Lokolé United Methodist Hospital in Kindu, Congo, returns a child to his mother after a routine immunization session. The United Methodist Church’s hospitals and clinics are helping vaccinate thousands of children each year in the country. Photo by Chadrack Tambwe Londe, UM News.

Church celebrates end of measles, Ebola outbreaks in Congo

United Methodist health centers in remote areas were key in helping to immunize children and end a measles epidemic that killed more than 7,000.