28.5 Stories – Inside Super Storm Sandy with Phyllis LoDuca
That’s how Phyllis LoDuca describes the International Relief Teams (IRT) and Future with Hope volunteers who spent a week building a wheelchair ramp to her front door.
These efforts are part of recovery from Super Storm Sandy in New Jersey. Three years after the storm, countless volunteer teams still descend into the waterfront area to rebuild homes, repair roofs and more.
Three. Years. Later.
While Phyllis was able to stay in her home after the storm, mostly due to her inability to be moved. Many other families are still displaced today. That’s why a Future with Hope, IRT and other recovery efforts are so critical. You might be puzzled as to why so long after the storm families are still scattered and can’t return home.
Sadly, there are many different causes.
After the complete devastation, the insurance companies cheated countless families out of rightful claims for covered homes. The fraud ran so prevalent, CNN ran a 60 Minutes on the extent of the damage from insurance companies.
Other families who do see insurance money, sometimes only 20-30% of the real value, are plagued by scammers. Between shoddy construction work, ripping off families entirely and mastering disappearing acts, it’s hard for families to know who they should trust with their home.
That’s where these “earth angels” come in.
Volunteers from around the country are trying to work at a faster rate than the scammers. Sometimes they even come in to repair their unsafe work.
I had the honor of joining the ranks of volunteer with IRT in March. For 6 long days our team of ten removed and replaced a roof, built two staircases to an elevated home, painted an entire house interior and repaired a leaky roof.
There is still a lot to be done in New Jersey. Most likely several more years of work. Luckily these dedicated volunteers are up for the challenge, many signing up for multiple trips a year.
Listen in to my interview with Phyllis LoDuca to hear her story of staying in the home the entire duration of the storm. The challenges that arose mere hours after it passed, and how these volunteer teams gave her hope again.
Note: I am interviewing her from her home in New Jersey with a handheld mic.
Phyllis insider her repaired home (with her sweet companion).
The first few days on my volunteer trip were removing and replacing a roof. Here are some of the gentlemen I worked with (including my husband on the left of the top image).