When I drove down to Long Beach for the first time since Sandy hit, it was almost scary to see the amount of devastation all around. I arrived at Orza’s home with ten other volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse and I was eager to get started. We took a tour of the home, where work had began the previous day, and it was hard to imagine what it looked like just two weeks earlier.
We started carrying out wooden floorboards that were dug out the day before and began piling them along the curb. Hours later, it was difficult to even see the home from the street because of the massive pile.
I was working alongside people of all different ages and backgrounds, but everyone’s willingness to work together and dedication made the day a complete success. In just the few of us at Orza’s house there were people from all over, including California, Missouri, Ohio and Saratoga, N.Y.
Grace Hayes, a 20-year-old from Folsom, Calif., made the cross-country trip with her dad, Brent, and family friend, Mark Janzen. Hayes doesn’t start paramedic’s school until January, so she will be in the area until Dec. 2. Since she had the time off, the resources to get to Long Island and the ability to work, she said making the trip was an easy decision.
While talking with Orza outside, Hayes came out to show him some newspapers from 1970 she had found tucked in the walls as insulation. When someone nearby asked who would do that, Orza quickly replied, “my dad, that’s who.” He took a picture of the nearly 42-year-old paper to share with his dad.
I spent the bulk of my day working near two brothers, Gianni, 30, and Sam, 28, Maraia, originally from Glen Cove. Gianni and Sam were digging up floorboards, while I carried the boards to the curb and began plucking up nails from the floor.
We knocked out the walks in the dining room, and put the plaster in bags. Others were inside a crawl space, ripping out wet insulation while wearing protective Tyvek Suits. Those with contracting experience helped disassemble the kitchen and bathroom, until the rooms were totally bare. It was a lot of manual labor, but you would be hard pressed to find a complaint coming from anyone in that house.