Sussex church group helps rebuild Jersey Shore

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Sixteen members of the First Presbyterian Church of Sussex spent a week in July working on homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy at the New Jersey Shore. “The group selected the New Jersey Shore because the shore residents are our neighbors, there is still a great need in the area and the proximity of the location kept travel expenses within reason,” trip organizer Katie Carbone said.

The Mission Group stayed at the Morning Star Presbyterian church in Bayville, which is just south of Toms River. Morning Star is a host village established with the assistance of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the relief organization of Presbyterian Church USA.

The 16 mission workers assisted in the repair of about six homes in the Toms River area. Tasks included painting, plumbing, insulation, clean up and roofing assistance. The group was equally divided between adults and youth. Most of the volunteers were not skilled at construction work but were willing to learn. One of the members, Julie Tremont, stated that there were certainly no slackers in our group. Everyone worked very hard.

The Mission group learned first-hand that the Jersey shore is not back to normal. One in four homes are either demolished, under construction or abandoned in many areas. Most of the homes the group worked on had been flooded with 3 to 4 feet of water and mud. One homeowner had been about to abandon her home of 15 years when she won a heating and cooling system and discovered Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and other charitable groups would assist in the reconstruction of her home. The Sussex Mission group put on the finishing touches painting her entire house and deck in a day and a half.

Other members of the group worked on the home of an elderly woman in her 90s, and of a retired veteran. The group also performed clean up at the Seaside Heights Community Center that had been a used to store tons of debris from the storm and was in need of maintenance.

Pastor Amy Lawrence, assistant organizer and minister at First Presbyterian Church of Sussex said the most important work accomplished was to give hope to all those devastated by Sandy.

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