May 2, 2013

Survivor Recalls Superstorm Sandy Six Months Later

Superstorm Sandy: Sara Cherrington
At Naomi African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Margarita Robinson (left) and Sara Cherrington ready CWS Kits for distribution to Superstorm Sandy survivors in Coney Island, N.Y. Photo: Terry Tangeman

It has been six months since Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New York/New Jersey coast, and survivors’ painful memories remain fresh.  So do their needs. 

CWS Blankets, Emergency Cleanup Buckets and other CWS Kits helped many survivors get through the first days after the storm passed.  Since then, CWS has been helping communities organize long-term recovery groups, which bring together a host of partners in support of survivors’ return to safe housing and peace of mind.

Sandy destroyed or damaged more than 170,000 homes in New Jersey and New York.  Six months later, many homes still require debris removal and temporary repairs before they can be reoccupied, and as a result many people are still living in temporary housing.  Dampness and mold plague many dwellings.

Among survivors is Sara Cherrington, a Coney Island, N.Y., homeowner.  “We were very badly affected,” she said.  “We had 10 to 14 feet of water. I never witnessed anything like what I witnessed.  The water came so fast that it burst the door and came in like a deluge.”

Cherrington works as Office Manager for the New York-based Global Missions Department of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, a CWS member communion.  She also holds elected office as General Secretary for the Bureau of Supply, AMEZ Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society.

Superstorm Sandy: Sara Cherrington's basement entrance
The basement entrance to Sara Cherrington’s Coney Island, N.Y., home, flooded by Superstorm Sandy. Photo: Sara Cherrington

Awhile ago, she organized an AMEZ shipment of CWS Kits to her native Honduras following an earthquake.  Before any other material aid got to Coney Island, CWS responded to her call for help.  In short order, 500 Emergency Cleanup Buckets plus an assortment of other CWS Kits and Blankets were trucked to Cherrington’s Naomi AMEZ Church in Coney Island for distribution to members of the community.

“You know what was very helpful to me?  The Hygiene Kit,” Cherrington commented. With her own towels soaking wet and toiletries floating somewhere in the flood waters, she said it was a relief to receive a clean washcloth, dry towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. 

Across Sandy-battered areas of New Jersey, New York and beyond to date, CWS has provided 12,840 CWS Blankets, 12,420 CWS Baby Care Kits, 19,500 CWS School Kits, 16,900 CWS Hygiene Kits and 2,193 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets. 

Cherrington has stayed with her home, toughing it out above the floodline while waiting for the insurance company check - it finally arrived April 29 - that will enable her to begin a “gut rehab” of the ground and first floors.  Meanwhile she continues to “fight to keep the mold from growing.  Everything was waterlogged.”

“I never thought I’d go through something like this in New York,” Cherrington said.  “It was a lot of drama.”