Written by: Jane Bowden/American Red Cross
Photo Credit: Kim Elizabeth Manning/American Red Cross
Tom Partyka and his daughter Stephanie were working against time trying to start the cleanup process of their three rental properties, which is how their family survived financially. Residents had been given the opportunity to return to the barrier island between 8am and 3pm. Apart from a quick 3 hour visit last week, the town had been under curfew.
The rental business had brought a good living to the Partyka family and was paying for Stephanie’s college fees. Many other local businesses had been similarly affected. Tom Partyka said the shock of the devastation had put his wife in hospital, where she has been for more than a week.
There is no water or power at Seaside heights; so trying to clean up homes, full of mud and debris is a daunting task. The sidewalks are piled high with household effects, which had been ruined by the storm. The whole area had an unpleasant smell caused by sewage that had mixed with the storm water.
When Red Cross workers called round with cleanup kits, food and water in their car, Tom and his daughter were already both hungry and thirsty.
Tom said they faced a massive task to try and repair the damage done by the storm and admitted he already had rental bookings for July. He said “The problem is all the floors and doors are warped, the wiring is shot and without water we are simply traipsing the mud everywhere. I’ve got to keep up the faith, I can’t give up.”
Many different agencies are involved in trying to help the people affected. But he had this to say about the Red Cross “I got to really thank the American Red Cross. When we were in line the other day waiting to come across, they fed us meals, drinks and stuff. They came up the streets. It was something. I would never have believed it until I actually seen it with my own eyes how you guys were fantastic and I’ll never hesitate to dip in my wallet and donate, I’ll tell you that.”
“I was skeptical you know, I never knew where the money was going, but when I seen that, hot meals for people, I said wow, the American Red Cross is the real deal and is something you really have got to believe in and trust me I’ve experienced it firsthand. I can’t thank you enough. Like today, I was dying of thirst for water and you guys had water and meal packs. I’m astounded, sounds corny but I really appreciate that kind of stuff, it means a lot to me, it goes a long way.”
Utility workers have told him that it may take many months to restore gas, power and water to his town.
See the video at: Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom
See more photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/87969009@N04/
About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region:
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 419 local disasters, helping 929 families displaced by home fires; educated more than 15,000 community members about disaster preparedness; collected more than 28,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; helped 844 military families send emergency messages, receive financial assistance, and get counseling and referrals; assisted 870 military members and their families facing deployment on how to access our services anywhere in the world; and trained 143,344 individuals with lifesaving skills in CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.