While government officials and the people living in the path of devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy try to rebuild, Montgomery County residents pitched in to try to help ease the suffering of those affected by the mammoth storm.
In Poolesville, residents delivered donations to a warehouse in Staten Island being used by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation — a 24-foot-long trailer with 5,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds of goods, Town Hall Event Coordinator Cathy Bupp said.
The idea came from Poolesville business owner Patrick Morningstar, she said.
“Patrick called me the week before,” she said. “‘I’ve got an idea, I think we need to help Hurricane Sandy victims,” she said he told her.
Bupp contacted a friend of hers who lives in Staten Island, she said, who put her in touch with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Bupp then posted a message on the town’s Facebook page, seeking donations.
“The town really came through,” she said, amassing the truckload of goods in just six days.
Then on Sunday, Nov. 11, Morningstar and his wife, Karri, along with his children, Kyle and Kaysie, headed north for New York. Bupp and newly elected Town Commissioner Valaree Dickerson went as well.
“Why wouldn’t you want to do it,” Morningstar asked. “More people need to do things, that’s for sure, they need a lot of help.”
In Staten Island, they saw houses swept from their foundations into the middle of streets, boats that had landed on top of buildings and porches that had separated from their houses and ended up in marshes.
In Germantown, members of the nonprofit Izaac Walton League of America, Rockville chapter (the chapter is based in Germantown), worked to help fill the gap caring for animals stranded or abandoned in the storm.
The Rockville chapter’s 600 members partnered with the Virginia-based Commonwealth Humane Society to deliver supplies to animal shelters that are dealing with a flood of now-homeless pets, member Miles Greenbaum said. The group sent canned goods, blankets, towels, dog food, candles, lamps and batteries.
“These groups need help,” he said.
The IWLA got involved in the effort after Kent Shaw, another member of the group, received an email from the Commonwealth Humane Society calling for donations.
Shaw said it didn’t surprise him that there was a lot of response from the chapter’s members.
“A lot of members [are] heavily devoted to their dogs,” he said.
And the Montgomery County Mormon community threw its weight into the recovery effort. A “stake” (the Mormon equivalent of a “diocese”) in New York contacted the 18 stakes in the greater Washington and Baltimore area seeking donations to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, said Marlowe Leafty, who directed the drive in Germantown.
“Wards,” or churches, from Germantown, Olney and Montgomery Village advertised their efforts and collected goods on Nov. 10, Leafty said.
On Nov. 11, after a stake-wide meeting, they packed the donations they had collected, along with materials left over from a drive by another nearby stake and a ward in Annapolis, he said.
“We [had] to sort all of this stuff. … It all had to be sorted by age, sex, items and then loaded onto moving trucks,” said Terilynne Butler, who was at the event.
“The response was truly amazing,” she said. “They were like an army.”
In total, the church packed up 851 boxes of goods that had been donated, Butler said.
“It was just a beehive of activity,” she said.