Sunday afternoon, upon my return back to campus, I had the means to go down with my swim coach and some swimming teammates to the destroyed area of Cedar Grove Beach on Staten Island to help out. I did not know what to expect when I arrived, and I could not believe the ruin Hurricane Sandy left in her wake. My coach, teammates, and I parked about a quarter of a mile away from the site where volunteers needed to help. We took a walk down the streets of the neighborhoods that led to the site, carrying the clothing and cleaning supplies we were donating with us.
The streets here were covered with dust, and the sidewalks were piled with furniture, cabinets, washers, televisions, printers, and any other item someone would find in a house. I felt my heart ache for the people. Houses were in utter ruin; I saw some houses completely off of their foundations, others had all of their walls ripped off, and some houses had become piles of splintered wood. As we walked closer to the water, the scene went from bad to worse. I thought we had already seen the entirety of the destruction of Sandy, but as we got closer to the beach, I was caught off guard and saw a scene worse than I had ever imagined.
Mud at least one inch thick covered the entire road. Sidewalks were littered with splintered wood from the broken homes. There was boat that was completely inland that was blocking a sidewalk. I found a lost teddy bear, covered in mud. My heart cried out for the little girl who had lost her precious friend, and I prayed that the little girl was safe.
As I made my way closer to the site where I saw a large gathering of bundled up volunteers, I felt the quiet, dismal air charged with determination and lots of heart. Volunteers of all ages had come to this site to lend a helping hand to this hard-hit neighborhood. Clothing donations were coming to the place by truckloads. My teammates and I were assigned to join the task force that was in charge of sorting out clothing. We had to sort them into trash bags labeled by gender and size.
We were there helping out for three hours. The sorting crew managed to sort through over fifty large trash bags of donated clothing during that time. We also helped out people who came in who were in need because they had lost everything from the hurricane. After a humbling, eye-opening afternoon, we slowly walked in the crisp air back to our car to return to school. From this experience, I learned how important it is to lend a helping hand to others in need. Seeing what some people have lost made me realize that I cannot take things for granted. All of my worries and complaints are insignificant compared to what the victims of Hurricane Sandy have to handle.
I am going to make every effort to continue helping with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts during the gaps between my classes during the week. Please help those in need by going to the Wagner Cares website. Every little bit helps, whether it is donating needed items, being a volunteer at one of the relief sites, or giving money. Stay strong, Staten Island!