Epping church group returns from aiding Sandy victims
Hoping to make a difference, seven members of the Epping Bible Baptist Church decided to their part when they took a trip last month to Island Park, N.Y., to help with the disaster relief effort.
They joined nearly 100 others who helped with the massive cleanup still under way weeks after Sandy roared ashore.
"Even 15 weeks after the storm, there was still a lot of work to be done," said Glen Cassidy, a church deacon.
The group visited the storm-ravaged area from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27 through Samaritan's Purse ministry, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that offers spiritual and physical aid to those in need.
Church members spent two days gutting a family's house devastated by Sandy and helped an older couple clean up debris in their yard and remove sheetrock from a shed and basement on another day.
At the end of the day, they returned to a church where they slept in a Sunday school classroom.
"We went down to do whatever needed to be done. Everybody just worked together and it was amazing. It's great to see people come together," said Cassidy, who's familiar with disaster cleanup after also lending a hand on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The idea to team up with Samaritan's Purse started with church member Jeff Bean of Hampton.
Bean spent a day in New York in December helping with Samaritan's Purse and shared his experience with other church members when he returned, prompting them to organize a larger group for a short mission trip.
He said he was surprised to see that there was little help available to the victims in the areas he visited. He said the Red Cross showed up with sandwiches, but he saw no other government agencies helping out.
"Here it is several months after, and there were no organizations helping," he said.
Bean said he would like to return to the Sandy-ravaged area to help again within the next couple of months.
"Ideally, I would like to give a week every month," he said.
Like Cassidy, David Bean of Danville (no relation to Jeff Bean) knew what he was in for he arrived to help in New York. He volunteered in South Carolina after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
"I was expecting pretty much what I saw. I've seen the aftermath of a big hurricane," he said. "There's still a lot of rebuilding that has to be done."
Bean, also a church deacon, said the disaster relief volunteer work is something he would like to experience again.
"It was great to be with a lot of people who were interested in serving God and helping people," he said.