The day of Superstorm Sandy, Donna Fisher and her 21 year-old son Michael, left their home on Mystic Island with one trash bag and one laundry bag full of clothes. When they came back to see their home the next day, they discovered that water had reached all the way to the door knobs of their one story ranch. They both realized that they wouldn’t be returning to their home soon, but had no idea how long it would take. The two stayed in a hotel for three weeks following Sandy and after that rented a condo for two months, thinking they would soon be back in their home. But after the house was condemned, Fisher said she began to realize that getting into her house was going to take a while.
“There was so much water within the house it shifted and the house was basically sinking on one end,” Fisher said.
The hardest part was in the beginning, she said, when no one was there for her and she didn’t know where to turn. Then she got connected with American Red Cross case worker Meredith Winick whom she called “her God send”.
“In the beginning, it was the not knowing that was stressful,” she said.
She said Winick has been there for her, finding her rental assistance with the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and has also been an ear to listen to her and offer advice.
“When you have 50 people coming at you, it makes your head spin,” said Fisher. “Meredith checks up on me, sees how I’m doing. She’s helped me mentally.”
Thanks to her Red Cross case worker, who presented Fisher’s case to the Unmet Needs Committee, Fisher and her son are now in more permanent rental, a condo in Thorofare, which they found through a co-worker of Fisher’s.
Last year, she asked her son what he wanted for Christmas and he said just to be back in his home. It has taken Fisher nearly two years to secure the money needed for rebuilding from a Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation grant and the Red Cross Gap Funding Initiative, but it looks like the two are on track to celebrate Christmas back in their home this year.
“We’ve come a long way,” Fisher said. “I’m stronger than I realized.”