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Working Tirelessly to Help Recover in Toms River

Red Cross South Jersey Sandy Recovery
The Red Cross called me and said do you need anything and I said, “we need everything.”

The day before Superstorm Sandy touched ground, Rose and Angelo Bertani, both in their 80s, left their Toms River home at the request of their daughter. They brought with them only the clothes on their back to their daughter’s house in North Jersey. When they finally returned, Rose said they were only able to salvage a few items which had hung high on the walls. Over four feet of water had destroyed their home and the two had to throw out all of their loved possessions from the house they had lived in for 12 years, as well as begin the process of rebuilding.

“We had to get a water well put in. New electric, new furnace, new plumbing, hot water heater, new air conditioning,” Rose said. “We’ve been through so much in two years.”

Rose said they were among the first people to receive money from the government for rebuilding, but sadly they gave all the money to a contractor who started work but never came back to finish. Rose and Angelo stayed for awhile with their children, then moved into a FEMA trailer while their house sat empty for six months. Rose then became in contact with the Red Cross, who worked tirelessly to help the couple get back into their home and even put them in touch with an attorney to help them recoup the lost money.

Unfortunately, more roadblocks stood in their way as many organizations were unable to help with the work since the contractor had already begun some of the process.

“Now the house had to be torn apart again,” Rose said. A church group stayed a week and tore down everything the contractor had down so that Habitat for Humanity could come in and help the couple rebuild. In the meantime, the FEMA trailer closed and Rose had to have surgery. As she was recuperating at her daughter’s home, her husband fell bringing her soup and broke his leg. Rose said the Red Cross was the “last hope” for the two as they both spent time in the hospital healing.

“The Red Cross called me and said do you need anything and I said, we need everything.”

Luckily, it’s a happy ending for the two who have certainly had their share of struggles since Sandy hit. The two are back in their house, decorating and “making it nice the way we like it,” Rose said. “We’re in our house thank God and all thanks to the Red Cross. My caseworker fought to get us in our house. She was wonderful to us.”