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Hurricane Sandy Digest 12/18/12: 'Very Difficult and Very Sad'

by Greg Tucker

When AmeriCorps NCCC member Melissa Ettman was assigned to lead a Sacramento, CA-based team to help with the Hurricane Sandy cleanup in New York and New Jersey, she was familiar with many of the areas affected by the storm. In fact, her 87-year-old grandmother on Long Island was affected by the hurricane and had to live without electricity for a week.

A storm like Hurricane Sandy that hits heavily populated areas touches a lot of lives. Ettman told the Sacramento Bee that, “Seeing communities I've been through before in disarray – it was very, very difficult and very sad. It was very hard to be there."

You can read more about her crew's reaction to their trip to the East Coast below, in addition to other stories related to the national service community's response to the storm.

Sacramento-Based Americorps Crew Returns From Hurricane Sandy Cleanup
The Sacramento Bee (California), Dec. 16, 2012
A crew of weary AmeriCorps workers stationed in Sacramento returned Saturday after spending three weeks helping clean up the mess left behind by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.

"It was a wild way to start our year, and it definitely took a lot of strength from everyone that participated in it," said Melissa Ettman, 23, a team leader.

Storm Relief Trip Stirs Local Volunteers' Souls
Yakima Herald
(Washington), Dec. 16, 2012
On Oct. 30, 48 AmeriCorps members from the Washington Conservation Corps took a three-and-a-half day road trip across country to volunteer with relief crews in New York City after the storm ravaged a wide swath of the New England coast on Oct. 29.

A crew of six from the Yakima area was part of that effort, returning home Nov. 29 after a month of long hours and little rest, but corps members say they wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

“When we got in the field, people were so grateful that we were there. All the stress that we had from lack of sleep and just working long hours just went away when we saw their faces and they started crying,” said Jordan Turner, the oldest member of the Yakima crew at 25. “It kind of just makes everything worth it, to see people's faces light up like that.”

Little-Known Jewish Group Helps Sandy Victims; Minnesota-Based NECHAMA Steps In Like 'Angels From Heaven'
Forward.com, Dec. 12, 2012
More than a month after Hurricane Sandy swept ashore, Charlie Messler had all but lost hope of getting government help to rebuild the home that was originally built by his grandfather nearly six decades ago. Desperate to restore the ruined ground floor, he considered selling part of his vintage car collection, which includes a pair of 1928 Chevys, to pay for the work.

But Messler, who is Catholic, first asked a local church and synagogue to put him in touch with private groups that might help. Within days, a team from NECHAMA: Jewish Response to Disaster, a little-known Minnesota-based volunteer group, showed up at Messler's door. Along with volunteers from AmeriCorps, the team gutted the wrecked floor in two days.

Councilman's Day Job Takes Him to Storm-Ravaged Long Island
Courier News (Illinois), Dec. 12, 2012
Elgin City councilman Rich Dunne, an employee with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, became part of a group that included two other people from his office, one from Kansas City, and a reservist and team leader, both from Pennsylvania. They were assigned to the disaster recovery center in Islip Township and specifically covered the town of West Islip. Their efforts were abetted by members of FEMA Corps, the federal community service program for young adults.

What Came After the Storm
Clinician Reviews, Dec. 11, 2012
Trish Wesch, a nurse practitioner and major in the Air National Guard who served in a shelter in Monmouth County, NJ, praised the cooperation between differing groups that were staffing the shelter—everyone from local law enforcement to the Red Cross to AmeriCorps, which sent a contingent of volunteers.

“I was shocked at how well it went, and how willing all these departments and organizations were to work together,” Wesch said. “Nobody was territorial. Everybody just started to do things that normally they wouldn't do.”

AmeriCorps Lends a Hand in Ocean County
The SandPaper (New Jersey), Dec. 11, 2012
Immediately following Super storm Sandy, a number of AmeriCorps members ages 18 to 25 traveled to the devastated areas in New Jersey and New York to offer a helping hand during the recovery process. Ocean County AmeriCorps Response, a group of 12 revolving members from California- and Minnesota-based organizations affiliated with the national program, has been offering free, immediate disaster relief assistance to local area residents who need help renovating their homes. Removing drywall, insulation and other debris as well as mitigating mold to help offset future building costs and potential health complications are the group's main priorities at this time.

“It's extremely rewarding to do this work because a lot of these people that we're working for aren't covered through their insurance, or don't have the means to hire contractors,” said Sean Fleming, 23, crew leader of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota. “Some of them don't have any family. To just be there for them and be able to do the work that's easy for young people like us to do, like ripping out Sheetrock, is very gratifying.”

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