Sandy or no Sandy, many Atlantic City residents rely on their community centers.
Some organizations in the resort that are usually tasked with picking up the people are still picking themselves up as they assess Sandy’s damages.
Covenant House, which houses about 45 at-risk youths in the city, sustained significant water damage at both of its Atlantic City locations, said Jill Rottmann, executive director of Covenant House New Jersey.
“On Sunday (Oct. 28), we evacuated all of the young people who are living with us, and then some that we found along the way, and we since then have had to move to four locations.”
They moved in vans from Atlantic City to Deptford to Voorhees to Philadelphia and then a motel on the Black Horse Pike. Crews have been working on the sites, and Rottmann is hoping the children will be back in their Atlantic City housing by midweek.
“It’s been really hard for them,” she said. “Our kids have suffered so much trauma already in their lives and so much unsettling in their lives, and they’re so resilient in so many ways, but at the same time it’s hard for them to keep up with it all, and cope with it all, and many of them don’t know the status of their loved ones.”
The Salvation Army thrift store on Albany Avenue was completely emptied following the storm. Out back, where the donations usually come in, was a giant pile of damp clothing and an industrial Dumpster stuffed with the same. Temporary workers, hired to clear the place out, said that it was the sixth industrial dumpster they had filled in three days of work.
A neighbor sifted through the trashed items, selecting a few colorful pieces of women’s clothing.
Keith Presley, of Georgia, a Servicemaster Recovery Management employee, was overseeing the temp workers.
“From the way it came in and out so fast, it was higher in some areas,” he said. “I’d say 16 inches of water in some areas. Some areas it was less.”
Salvation Army representatives could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Sister Jean Webster’s Kitchen at the Victory First Presbyterian Church stayed dry, but they were unable to serve food all week because they had lost power.
“We didn’t get electricity until (Saturday) night,” said Pastor Charles Lyles. “They fed Wednesday, in the dark, but the rest of the week they didn’t do anything, but they should be up and running (today).”
The kitchen freezers will have to be restocked, but Lyles said they didn’t have to trash the food.
“We didn’t have electricity, so the freezers were down, so to keep it from going to waste we gave all the food away,” he said.
Atlantic City Rescue Mission fared relatively well and is now dealing with good problems. It is packed with donated goods. Warehouse supervisor Tim Hunt said he’s never seen anything close to the amount of donations that the Rescue Mission has received in the last week.
As of Sunday afternoon, almost 30 box trucks had delivered food and clothing to the Rescue Mission. Volunteers were working to sort and distribute the donations, which had come from places as far as Illinois.
“Our electric was fine, the only thing we did have was some water damage,” said Ben VanBoerum, who has lives and works at the Rescue Mission. “The food bank was closed as soon as the evacuation started, and it’s opening back up tomorrow. We serve almost 400 families a day, so the food intake is right in, right out. It’s not like we lost a lot.”
He said most things stayed dry. The clinic and the warehouse both had mild flooding.
“The warehouse had some damage,” he said. “Everything is on pallets, 6 to 12 inches up, so the material stuff wasn’t ruined. It was just a lot of water, mold we’re cleaning out.”
VanBoerum said the Rescue Mission always needs volunteers, but they are desperately needed over the course of the next two weeks.
“The only thing that’s slowing us down is the lack of manpower,” he said. “We’ve got all this stuff coming in, but the more volunteers the better. The volunteers are dealing with their own families.”
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