The day Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey, Palma and her family were standing in their home in a foot of water. They knew they had to evacuate immediately.
“Trying to get out was a nightmare. Houses were burning down. It was very scary,” says Palma of her escape from the neighborhood. “The street was flooded and we had to drive on the neighbor’s lawns.”
Palma’s family evacuated to her mother’s home just five miles to the south, a trip that would normally take 15 minutes took an hour due to major flooding on the highways and side streets.
After the storm had passed, the family came back to their home to survey the damage.
“It was like a war zone. Utter devastation,” said Palma of her neighborhood. She watched her neighbors walking around their destroyed properties inspecting the damage and crying over everything they had lost.
Palma discovered her house had been submerged in three to four feet of water. From the force of the water, the house’s contents had been pushed into the kitchen. The front porch had floated away and was sitting down the block. The fence was gone. She never imagined she could lose everything in just one night.
Palma and her family remained displaced for the next three years, two months, and two days. The process of applying for aid from the state, institutions designed to support people in need after a disaster, was extremely frustrating and slow. After a year of wading through the bureaucracy, they were told they did not qualify for support.
At a loss for what to do next, Palma heard from a friend about A Future With Hope, an IRT partner organization, that was rebuilding homes for those in need in New Jersey. Within the next 10 months, she was home again in a brand new house built by IRT volunteers. Palma is incredibly thankful to these two organizations for working together to give her back her life. She knows without their support, she would still be homeless.
Palma is only one success story. There are many families who are still displaced due to Superstorm Sandy and waiting to go home. Over three years later, destroyed homes along the New Jersey coast are sitting untouched, and homeowners are still looking for an answer to their prayers.