Written by: Jane Bowden
Teacher Deborah DiMicelli was mandatorily evacuated from her home in the charming wooded town of Little Silver in New Jersey before Hurricane Sandy struck. Her Mother, Dianne Ledig, who admitted to being in her 90’a and who had lived in the house next door for the past 50 years, joined her.
They checked into the nearby Staybridge Suites Hotel in Eatontown and sat the storm out with many other local residents. Her Mother was used to coping, after all she worked with the USO during the Second World War and had entertained allied troops across Europe in difficult conditions.
After the storm the power went out, so along with many other local people who had sought refuge from the storm they lived without lighting or heat and the Hotel was facing difficulties getting food supplies through because of the large number of roads blocked by fallen trees and downed power-lines. They praised for the Staff for keeping the Hotel open under very difficult circumstances.
But little could have prepared them for the devastation that the floodwaters had wreaked on their two homes in Winding Way. Deborah returned to try and recover a few belongings and essential paperwork and to survey the damage to both homes. What she found left her in despair.
By coincidence the Hotel was also housing some Red Cross workers, involved in the disaster relief operation. They got chatting over breakfast and the Red Crossers offered the pair some Red Cross help in the shape of case workers who would be able to guide them to other agencies where help may be available.
A Red Cross Volunteer accompanied Deborah on her second visit to the houses in Little Silver. Three years ago her life was devastated when her Husband was killed in a car crash. So the trauma of losing much of the contents of her home was compounded by the memories they held. She said she was keeping her self together for her Mother. She has flood insurance but her Mother did not.
A Little time later a team of Red Cross Case workers was able to give them advice and guidance about what agencies they could access to start on the road to recovery. Also Red Cross Mental Health Specialists offered the pair counseling to give them a chance to talk about their ordeal and the issues that worry them about the future.
Deborah DiMicelli says the help the organization has given them had been invaluable. “ They really listened. Everybody is trying to be brave and put on a good front and march on. But it is difficult and compassion is always welcome and fortunately not in short supply with the American Red Cross.”
She added that her Mother still talks about the coffee and donuts that the Red Cross served to the troops during World war II., and says “ It may not be about donuts right now but knowing that somebody really cares when you are in the middle of a disaster, is so important.