On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New York and New Jersey and killed 71 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and left millions without electricity. Rebuilding after a disaster is a long process, and we have been there since the beginning on the Jersey shore, helping elderly, disabled, and low-income families get back on their feet and back in their homes.
Our Superstorm Sandy reconstruction program wrapped up at the end of 2016, after four years of relief work in the area and 49 homes repaired or rebuilt. After our last team, we took time to remember some of the families we helped:
Jim and Mary, both in their 70s, lost everything in the storm. After three years of shuttling among their children’s homes, they finally were able to move back into their home that was rebuilt by IRT volunteers.
Palma’s house had been submerged in water and the front porch had floated a block away. She never imagined she could lose everything in just one night. Palma and her family were displaced for over three years. She says that without the IRT volunteers who rebuilt her home, she would still be homeless.
Anthony and his family lived on the second floor of their house for several months after the storm hit because the first floor was damaged by flood waters. After his kids kept getting sick he discovered mold in the wet walls. Our dedicated volunteers repaired Anthony’s home and now his family has a safe and healthy place to live.
Watch how IRT is rebuilding New Jersey:
On November 8, 2018, the Camp Fire ravaged my hometown of Old Magalia and surrounding communities, destroying everything in its path. The devastation included my home: five generations of memories, thousands of pictures, my livelihood as an artist, and my grandson’s safe place. Additionally, it devastated my lifelong goal of owning my own home, without debt, and the life I had dreamed of, near family and friends.
"Everything was that roof." After Hurricane Dorian caused massive devastation and destruction in the Bahamas, one family shares their story of hope.
“You can’t imagine the damage. You see it on TV, but until you see it in person, you don’t understand it,” said Gene Woolsey, a volunteer onsite distributing supplies to victims.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what happened,” said IRT volunteer Ken Marsh about the devastated town of Paradise, CA. The entire town of Paradise in northern California was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018. These wildfires were the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history. About 30,000 families lost their homes and their livelihoods.
Providing relief after a disaster not only sustains life, it maintains hope for the future and the potential for full economic recovery. IRT’s role in providing disaster relief is becoming even more important as the number of natural disasters increases due to climate change.
“A massive fire burned in the camp. At that moment, everything that had been built and arranged for four years was destroyed by fire within half of a day,” said Samuda Begum, a refugee living in a camp on the Bangladesh/Myanmar border.
Children injured in air strikes in Syria survive thanks to donated medicines
Cyclone Idai completely demolished their home and all of their belongings, including the little food they had managed to store up. The floodwaters from the storm also destroyed their farm...
Do you remember last year when we told you about Nellie Santiago and her family? Category 5 Hurricane Maria destroyed their home and everything they owned back in 2017 when the entire island of Puerto Rico was hit by the massive storm. Then, a few months ago, everything changed for the Santiagos! Thanks to you and the gift you gave to support Hurricane Maria Victims, IRT hired local labor and provided construction materials so that the Santiagos, and 30 other families in their village of Villa Esparanza, could have their homes rebuilt.
Tragically, two children fall to their death while waiting for flood waters to recede.
A young mother in Somalia escapes war and natural disaster with her four children.
A class of eight graders take action after learning of the devastation caused by recent disasters
“The military attacked my village. They set fire to the brush and shot five people, including my husband Mohammad Shafi,” said Marzaan. “When I arrived in Bangladesh, my only belongings were my nine children. We had nothing.”
“The home was completely destroyed. Everything blew away,” said Nellie Santiago. “Our lives have changed forever. Nothing is the same.”
A young family moves home two years after catastrophic flooding in Louisiana Crystal’s real-life nightmare began two years ago in August 2016 when it started to rain. Crystal lived with her partner Kevin and 15-year-old son, Micheal, outside Baton Rouge in Springfield, Louisiana. When Kevin and Crystal bought their home six years ago, they did not know it was in a 1-in-1,000 year flood zone and that 2016 was the year the river would flood for the first time in human memory.
Jamilah’s daily routine in Furuglay had consisted of working on her farm and looking after her livestock, in order to earn money to feed her children. But as Somalia continued to suffer from severe drought, this resulted in food shortages that left many, like Jamilah, in desperate living conditions.
Rina’s house was one of more than 140,000 homes that were severely damaged and left uninhabitable by the catastrophic floods of 2016 in Louisiana. Rina and her husband Juan, both in their 70’s, were left homeless, just like many of their neighbors. Their house didn’t have any floors anymore, their kitchen was destroyed, their rooms where infested with mold, and it smelled like sewage. “We couldn’t go back in. Everything we had, everything we worked for, was damaged or gone. The house was completely ruined,” she said.
Colin Kirkpatrick of Dublin, Ohio just turned seven years old and he chose to celebrate his special day in an unconventional way. Instead of receiving gifts from his friends, Colin “donated” his birthday to International Relief Teams, asking his friends to give money to victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida.
On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico with wind speeds up to 150 mph. The resulting damage from the storm across the entire island was catastrophic, cutting off power and running water sources to most of the 3.4 million residents. Three weeks later, most people are still without power.
Last summer, the small town of Denham Springs, Louisiana outside Baton Rouge was one of the area hardest hit by a devastating flood. The storm, which gained little news coverage across the country, dropped up to 27 inches of rain in a 24-hour period and the swollen Amite River flooded an area 17 miles by 52 miles wide. The storm was considered a one in one-thousand year event.
The night of October 4, 2016 was the most frightening of little Mamande’s young life. Mamande, three-years-old, huddled inside her home in Les Cayes, Haiti all night with her mom and dad as the torrential winds and rain of Hurricane Matthew tore the roof of their home. The poor family couldn’t afford to rebuild their little house and had to relocate to another part of the city.
A year into the war, twenty-five of Victor’s family members were killed right before his eyes, when bombs hit a family reunion in northern Syria. Victor and his wife decided to flee to Turkey with...
Adnan, his wife, Bana and their seven children had a comfortable life in Syria before the war. They weren’t wealthy, but they had a house and a car and they made a living by selling the...
On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu. The massive tremor left more than 8,000 dead and an estimated 23,000 injured and homeless. One year...
A New Jersey woman and her family finally go home after Superstorm Sandy The day Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey, Palma and her family were standing in their home in a...
Dawa is a Nepali Sherpa with a dream to bring quality education to his small, Nepali village called Lukla near Mt. Everest. His dream became reality in April, 2015 when he established the first...
On April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu. The massive tremor left more than eight thousand dead and an estimated 23,000 injured and homeless. IRT...