Even before Sandy’s first gusts reached our shores, volunteers from the entire United States were on their way to southern Ocean County and all East Coast areas soon to be devastated.
Many of them are still here or have rotated out to be replaced by others from their organizations.
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police had arrived from as far away as Missouri and Louisiana at the Long Beach Township Municipal Complex. They set up a kitchen and for the next two weeks as the building served as the command center for LBI’s Emergency Management Operations and the National Guard, they fed the police, first responders, National Guard and EOC personnel.
As the storm passed, more FOP members fanned out with cleaning supplies, equipment and manpower to work on the homes of Long Beach Island's police officers as they remained on duty round the clock, said Sgt. Chuck Traynor, of LBTPD and president of FOP Lodge #5, adding, “Even our national secretary, Pat Yoes, came to the island to help out."
Around the same time, Red Cross volunteers were on the road or in the air from Maine to Hawaii and South Dakota to Texas. Among them was Sandy Troyen, who came from South Bend, IN. “I felt guilty and had to do something, since this storm has my name on it,” she joked while handing out hot meals and drinks to those allowed to return to LBI for the first time after the storm last week.
She and Phyllis Rand from Maine and Carolyn Hall from Hawaii were working together in Ship Bottom - making them a true cross country team. Their truck is still parked in front of the Grace Calvary Church on Long Beach Boulevard - providing meals not only to residents and workers - but the volunteers lodged at the church.
The Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteer teams are flowing in and out of the church from all over, not just below the Mason-Dixon Line.
According to Pastor Dan Stott, the church has the ability to house about 55 workers at a time, who have construction trade skills.
“Once a property’s clean out is finished, these workers will come in and gut the sheetrock, carpet, plumbing and other damaged items,” said Stott.
Those needing these services can register at the church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The SBCDR also has registration offices on the Mainland at King of Kings Church and Lighthouse Christian Academy on Hilliard Boulevard, both in Manahawkin.
In Toms River prior to the storm, Ed Angster and his wife were stocking the mission’s food truck and preparing their home to house volunteers coming in from Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
More than two weeks later, they were still traveling daily to Beach Haven West serving meals and hot dogs.
On one particular nasty rainy day Angster and his wife, retired Maj. McLean-Angster and two other retired SA officers, Shirley and Ken Kristiasen, were in Beach Haven West with franks, chips and cups of that lifesaving coffee.
“Just because we’re retired doesn’t mean we are going to stop helping,” said Ken Kristiansen.