DALLAS TWP. – Jim Miller first realized he was in a disaster zone when he noticed the traffic lights were out … and when he saw a boat on the street and cars full of mud on sidewalks. For Kellyann Gough, it was the small things that were compelling.
You literally walk down the street and see a glove covered by debris, or dogs outside in cages, The 19-year-old psychology major said of a Misericordia University volunteer trip to Staten Island to assist Hurricane Sandy victims. The dogs couldn't be allowed inside houses – or even unsupervised on streets – because of all the mud and debris.
Miller and Gough – who noted she was from Staten Island and visits often – were among six university students who left the campus Nov. 9 with a van full of donated relief goods, spent the night at the home of alumna Andrea Brognano, and then went looking for people in need of assistance. It was the second such mission organized through the campus ministry.
Finding people eager for help wasn't hard.
Relief workers had already gone through the area putting flags on houses – green if habitable, yellow if salvageable but not yet livable, and red if essentially doomed.
Those houses weren't where they were supposed to be, Miller said. Some were knocked off their foundations.
Relief aid – food, water, clothing, baby needs, cleaning supplies – were available at many corners. And it turned out that, in a pinch, so was a little muscle.
A woman asked us if we could break apart some furniture and throw it on the curb, Gough recounted. At that point it was just a couple of us girls, so we recruited three guys off the street.
Not that breaking up waterlogged furniture or pulling down soaked plasterboard took that much effort. One guy walked through a wall, psychology sophomore Caroline Landon, 19, recalled. Why? Just to show you could, Miller said.
The group spent only one day in the disaster zone but the emotional reward was big.
At the end of the day, Caroline and I talked to the woman we had helped, Gough said. She said ‘Thank you, God bless you,' that made everything very worthwhile.
Landon agreed. That was the best moment. She told us ‘I can't express in words what this means to me.'
The Misericordia Campus Ministry is planning another trip to Staten Island this weekend. Donations of non-perishable food, baby needs, gas cans, heavy duty garbage bags, batteries and bottled water are welcome. There is no longer a need for clothing.
Drop off donations: Campus Ministry Office, Banks Student Life Center
Address: 301 Lake St., Dallas Township
Drop-off times: Weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.