The stories have been told and retold of the enormous damage Hurricane Sandy caused along the east coast. Today we were reminded of the impact that powerful storm had on the area and how it personally affected one family.
The water wasn’t looking that great for a dive, so the team decided to use the day for boating and search pattern training. It was a good day to hone our skills and teach the newer members some of our procedures. We headed out in Rescue 34 and headed towards the Rt35 Mantaloking Bridge. All along the shore were reminders of Hurricane Sandy. Docks twisted or stripped of planking. Houses that are broken in half or sunken into the ground. Walls crumbled into piles of debris. A house stands in the middle of the waters. Ripped from its foundation and dropped into the bay. The water lapping at the second story windows.
After surveying the area we found a stretch of land to practice our search skills. We split into two teams. Chet, Joe and Sue in Team 1 and Gibby, Sammi and “The Other” Joe in Team 2. The debris field offered a great way to examine how items are affected by strong weather. Here were the remains of a house that was demolished by the estimated 22 knot current created by Hurricane Sandy near the foot of the Mantaloking Bridge. The entire roof was torn from the rest of the structure and floated across the bay.
As we approached the structure we found a group of people searching through the debris. One of the women, Nancy G., explained that it was her Grandmothers house and that they were collecting things to help recreate what was lost during the storm. She and her son Sam were brought here by Julian. Julian had heard about their loss and called to offer her boat to take them out to the remains of the house. Nancy agreed and invited Charlie, a family friend to accompany them.
We were all moved by their story and offered our help. We sorted through several lifetimes of memories. Furniture, books, clothing, photos, all jumbled together in the attic space. Nancy went back to the dock with the first boat of salvaged items. The boat returned with Nancy’s sister Rebecka on board. She told little stories of each item she tried to save. A favorite T-shirt from when she was a little girl, a chest of blankets, small rolls of fabric that had been used for decorating the downstairs. Each one a small reminder of her family’s life spent in this 85 year old house.
We helped supervise a tow of their salvaged items back to their dock and then it was time to call it a day. We were a little tired and a little cold, but we were all happy to be at the right place at the right time to offer a little help.