West Wildwood resident Carrie Ensle woke early Saturday morning to check to see if the winter storm had brought tidal flooding to her bayside neighborhood. Not seeing any water, Carrie and her fiancé John Hicks returned to bed.
The couple was awakened a half hour later by Carrie’ beloved cat Moo Shu crying on her chest as salt water began pouring into their first floor apartment.
Pushing its way in under doors and around windows, the water levels quickly rose to three feet.
John climbed out onto the roof of their home where he could see items and debris being swept away by the water. A boat that had broken free during the storm bobbed up and down in their driveway. They knew they needed to evacuate quickly.
The couple spotted a military-style vehicle on the street and headed out into the frigid ocean water.
“We were pushing ice out of our way,” said Carrie. “I was holding my cat above my head. The water was up to our chest.”
Rescuers took Carrie and John to a local hotel where they stayed the night.
By Monday, the floodwaters had receded and Carrie and John returned to their home to assess the damage and begin cleaning up.
With roads plowed and travel conditions improved, American Red Cross New Jersey Region volunteers began driving response vehicles into some of the areas hit hard in Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean counties, to provide assistance as people began to clean up their flood-damaged homes.
A team of Red Cross volunteers visited Carrie and John at their home to check on their wellbeing. They provided the couple with a clean-up kit containing items including a bucket, mop, broom, disinfectant, detergent and sponges, as well as other items to help facilitate the post-storm clean up.
“When we saw them, we went running out,” Carrie recalled. “The kit definitely helped us. We’ve been using all the supplies.”
Carrie hugged one of the volunteers in appreciation.
“We were overwhelmed,” she said. “Seeing that somebody was out there to help, we knew we weren’t by ourselves anymore.”
Carrie says while her body still aches from her icy trek to the rescue vehicle and the physical work with the cleanup, she is trying to stay positive.
“It’s sad,” she said. “I just keep telling myself everything happens for a reason and that this will be a new beginning.”
As winter weather and flooding moved into the Garden State Saturday, the Red Cross, in cooperation with its government partners, opened three shelters for families who evacuated their homes due to coastal flooding and power outages. The shelters, located in Atlantic City, Barnegat and Woodbine, provided a warm, safe place for the 59 people who stayed overnight. Shelters closed Sunday as many of the families returned home.
On Monday, volunteers began driving response vehicles into neighborhoods where flooding was reported. Volunteer teams distributed more than 900 relief items including shovels, trash bags, gloves, tarps, as well as 80 clean-up kits containing items such as a mop, broom, disinfectant, detergent and sponges to families in need.
A multi-agency resource center will be open on Saturday, January 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Wildwood City Hall, located at 4400 New Jersey Avenue in Wildwood, for families affected by the storm.
HOW TO HELP All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.
You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms or countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Donate by visiting redcross.org calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The extreme weather has created an emergency need for blood donations and platelet donors, as many donation centers had to be closed during the blizzard. All eligible blood and platelet donors of all types are urged to make an appointment to give as soon as possible. See full details here about how you can help.