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Temple helps Sandy victims go home again
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Temple helps Sandy victims go home again

Members of Jewish Federation of Monmouth County’s Sandy Teen Fellows on their first day of volunteer work on the Sea Bright house of Desiree Pierce, April 6.
Members of Jewish Federation of Monmouth County’s Sandy Teen Fellows on their first day of volunteer work on the Sea Bright house of Desiree Pierce, April 6.

Thanks to generous support from Temple Rodeph Torah of Marlboro, plus significant help from numerous nonprofit organizations, a family displaced by Hurricane Sandy will soon be going home again.

Work is under way to completely reconstruct the lower floor of the house at 19 New St. in Sea Bright where Desiree Pierce and her three grown children lived before the storm struck on Oct. 29, 2012. 

June is the target date for Pierce and her family to move in.

Hers is just the first of 30 homes due for reconstruction by Sea Bright Rising, an ambitious volunteer-based program aimed at helping rebuild the Jersey shore borough.

Sea Bright is working in close cooperation with the Louisiana-based St. Bernard Project and the National Civilian Community Corps, an arm of AmeriCorps St. Bernard Project, a national nonprofit group that got its start in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and AmeriCorps, a U.S. government service program.

Among the volunteers are the Sandy Teen Fellows, an initiative of Jewish Federation of Monmouth County. 

Rodeph Torah has committed to support the effort financially through a dedicated donation to Sea Bright Rising that will cover the estimated $43,000 needed to make the Pierce home habitable. According to the congregation’s Rabbi Donald Weber, some of its members may also volunteer to work at the site. 

The temple’s board unanimously agreed to adopt the family in its time of need, said Weber, who described Pierce’s sense of fear and loss when the floodwaters rose as high as her neck. 

“Everything downstairs was floating — it did not matter how heavy it was — it was floating,” he said she told him. A lifetime resident of Sea Bright who works for Jet Blue at Newark Airport, Pierce had never experienced anything like Superstorm Sandy, said Weber.

The family initially sought refuge at relief shelters, then lived in a motel room for a while. More recently they have been living in a rental across the street from their home. 

Weber said she told him about watching the progress being made: “Sometimes I stare across the street and imagine what it will be like when I am finally able to return home. I imagine cooking in my kitchen, sitting on my furniture, sleeping in my bed, and standing on my porch — gazing out at the river and breathing a huge sigh of relief.”

Noting that some 300 Sea Bright houses were lost or badly damaged by Sandy, Kelly Riordan, marketing development manager for the Manhattan-based St. Bernard Project, said that money is desperately needed for the recovery effort. 

She praised Rodeph Torah for its commitment to raise funds toward the restoration of the Pierce home and urged others who wish to donate to check out crowdrise.com/seabrightrisinginc.

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