Harvey’s Heroes: NJ residents volunteering for hurricane recovery effort
TRENTON — A Salvation Army volunteer from Plainsboro and a former State Police officer still rebuilding his home after Sandy are among those New Jersey residents in Texas helping with rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
Terry Schott is The Salvation Army Mercer County Coordinator of EDS. He began his time with The Salvation Army in 2012, a month before super storm Sandy struck New Jersey. He first went to San Antonio and was teamed up with volunteers from Massachusetts and Delaware and from there was sent to Corpus Christi. He will be in Texas for 14 days.
As the group made the drive to Corpus Christi, Scott said they witnessed varying degrees of damage.
"We've been through areas where you would believe nothing happened. Then you'll go three blocks away and you'll see places totally leveled. Some places the outside of a structure looks pretty good and inside is gutted. Some places the outside is torn up and inside it's not bad," Schott said, which was similar to his Sandy experience.
Repairs are being made at a good pace and people are returning to their neighborhoods and are helping each other with cleanup.
"When we drove up there we could see a lot of telephone poles on the side. By the time we left (Corpus Christi) crews were already putting the telephone poles back up. They're really doing a terrific job of starting the recovery," Schott said.
SFC Christian Dreyer from Ocean County has been in Texas with 20 other members of the water rescue unit of the Task Force 1. They have been working in Wharton County with teams from Arizona, California, and Tennessee where he said water was up to the rooftops of homes.
"As the water started to recede we've been going in there assessing house to house making sure everyone is okay, doing evacuations if necessary. There was no mandatory evacuation in place for that town so if they wanted to shelter in place so we were taking any animals and humans that wanted to evacuate to the shelter in that town," Dreyer said.
There's no difference between rescuing people or pets and it's gratifying feeling either way, to according to Dreyer.
"I really feel for a lot of these people and what they're going through." Dreyer said. The 20-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police is still not back in his home after Sandy.
"As a victim of Hurricane Sandy...It's nice to know we have 200 volunteer members of Task Force 1 that are willing to put their life at risk, take time away from their families and come down here and really perform a phoenominal job and really help with the rescue effort and save some people's lives," Dreyer said.
The American Red Cross' New Jersey chapter sent 34 volunteers to Texas.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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