Sandy Survivors Get Hot Meal For The Holidays [AUDIO]
A holiday meal hosted by the Lacey United Methodist Church is more than a plate of hot food but rather a support system for the many people devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Wednesday's dinner served food courtesy of Shop Rite Partners in Caring, the food bank of Ocean and Monmouth County, and former New England Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green, who donated seven thousand pounds of shrimp from his native Louisiana.
The former football player donated the a total of ten thousand pounds of food as a way of saying 'thank you' for the support his native Louisiana received from residents of New Jersey. ShopRite donated side dishes and desserts for the holiday meal, while chefs and volunteers from the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County cooked and served.
Many of the people at the church remain in a stasis after Sandy, no longer fighting waves and wind but rather insurance paperwork and FEMA forms.
Albert Johnson of Forked River had thirty thousand in damage to his home, not the largest number in the room, but enough to leave him without a place to live; and like many there he faces troubles trying to get money to rebuild
"When you're homeless, it feels terrible."
The retiree has owned his home for some time now, and did not have flood insurance. He continues to struggle with FEMA and notes one of the hardest things is the disparity between people who suffered minor damage and people like him.
"You've got people who lost two shingles off the house and feel that they should be treated just like lost everything," says Johnson.
Similarly, Bill Buglione of Snug Harbor says after suffering damage to his home he finds himself "fighting just to keep our head above water, the insurance companies are driving us crazy".
"FEMA tells you to go see the flood insurance, flood insurance tells you to see home owners insurance, before you know it you're going in circles. Somebody do something for me. Give me a helping hand."
He notes it's especially frustrating since the storm caused his wife to lose hours from her job, cutting into their income for things like food.
Similarly to Johnson, Buglione explains one of the challenges is explaining to those who have a home with power what life is like.
"You can go home kick off your shoes and relax, over here you don't have a house to do it. You're freezing because you don't have everything."
However some have a more optimistic approach. Patricia Doyle from Forked River says even though Lacey United Methodist Church has helped everyone immensely, "It's a great place here at a shelter, but it's still a shelter it's not your home."
Doyle is staying at a friend home, but she understands that arrangement isn't indefinite. Looking ahead she has a positive outlook for the new year.
"You just try to tough it out and see it through. Try to get to a point where the insurance settlements are coming you have a clearer picture of what's going to happen."
"I honestly think what a couple people told me is good advice is you have to find a new normal."