There are no real words to describe devastation left behind by a natural disaster. If you are lucky(?) enough to see the wreckage first hand then you know what I am about to say will tear at your heart strings.
You have most likely been bombarded by posts talking about donations and what you can do to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Over Veterans' Day weekend my company chartered buses each day for those of us (along with friends and family members) who wanted to get their hands dirty and do what we can to ease the pain of some even if it was just for a few moments at a time.
Living in Upstate NY (near Albany) we didn't get much of the weather downstate did. So to see cars that were filled with moisture and mud with their windows busted out gives you the chills. Knowing that water and wind ripped through the area and created new landscapes in a few hours puts life into perspective.
Our bus headed to a church in Coney Island. Not one of us knew what was in store for us when we arrived. This church was a food pantry before the storm hit and when we stepped off the bus it was barely a place of worship. The stench in the air was a mixture of ocean air, mud, mold, and raw sewage. The storm surge brought in 8 feet or more of water filling the basement to the ceiling and completely destroying walls, a children's library, food pantry area, and a small living space for the church caretaker. About 80 of us were on hand to literally shovel crap (mixture of mud, earth, and sewage) out of the basement, rip down drywall, throw away drop ceiling remnants, furniture, and pack up thousands of books and audio cassettes into garbage bags to haul it to the curb for the garbage truck.
Area residents lined up at the church and around the corner starting at 10am. Later we found out that they wait in line each day at this location for more than 6 hours to receive 3 bottles of drinking water and a little food. If they require special needs such as diapers or animal food they will receive that as well. A very touching site to say the least. A Red Cross food truck set up shop out front and handed out 400 hot meals - they do this daily as well. Several random vehicles pulled up to the line that formed and started to serve hot soup from the back of the car.
I will have more pictures in the future - the devastation is still something we all talk about. As you finish reading this entry and take a look at the few photos below take a moment to realize what you have around you and cherish each moment and possession.