On Saturday, August 11, 2018, a heavy rainstorm slammed New Jersey. In less than an hour, five inches of rain came down quickly. One town in particular in the Garden State—Little Falls—experienced flooding not seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. As a result, water overflowed in one isolated area of town. The banks along the Peckman River were unable to contain it. Streets were deluged and even the first floors of homes were swallowed up. Residents had little to no time to prepare and were caught off guard. Suddenly, three to four feet of water flooded streets and homes very quickly. Cars were swept away and people were trapped in their homes without electricity.
It was a catastrophe because the flooded area is not considered a flood zone. Consequently, many homeowners were never obliged to get flood insurance because of it. The aftermath is a disheartening scene and will be forever remembered by those who were affected. The recovery process may be challenging and at times draining. The residents will certainly need support and that’s when WeLoveU decided to get involved.
Volunteers in Blue
On two consecutive Sunday’s, August 19 and 26, 250 WeLoveU volunteers collectively assembled in Little Falls, New Jersey. At a time when residents were seeking much-needed aid, WeLoveU stepped in to help as much as possible. Homeowners needed assistance with many things. For instance, from demolition and debris removal to cleaning-off household goods and lifting damaged furniture.
The Office of Emergency Management Coordinator—Sgt. Dan Gianduso—provided WeLoveU with a list of houses requesting help. The volunteers divided into smaller teams, walking to assigned homes with supplies. While walking, volunteers witnessed first-hand the damage caused by the rainstorm.
The extent of the damage was surreal. Just a few blocks away, it appeared as if nothing happened, yet another few blocks away there was complete devastation. They worked from the morning until the last set of volunteers returned to the meeting tent around 5 p.m. So, in eight and a half hours, the group managed to help 24 out of 30 affected homes. All households were incredibly thankful for the work provided by the WeLoveU volunteers.
“We appreciate all the help that your organization has done for us, because without you all this would not have gotten done today, thank you all so much,” said Diana, a Little Falls resident.
Mayor James Damiano came to greet the volunteers providing disaster relief. He said, “It’s because of all your help and all of these blue shirts around me, that these many hands make light work. I want to thank every single one of them for everything that they’ve done today because the residents were really touched by all of the help.”
In addition to providing disaster relief, WeLoveU volunteers donated 45 boxes of blankets and socks for children and adults. The donated items were later distributed to residents in the Little Falls Civic Center.
The Outcome and WeLoveU’s Mission
WeLoveU’s support is only the first step for families rebuilding and recovering. Despite the long road ahead, WeLoveU hopes they relieved even some burden from the homeowner’s shoulders. The victims of this disastrous event needed not only working hands but also comfort, sympathy
Short after this relief effort, the city of Little Falls invited WeLoveU to their Town Hall Meeting on Monday, August 27, 2018. The Mayor and Council along with the community expressed their deep appreciation for the efforts of the WeLoveU volunteers. With gratitude to WeLoveU and the volunteers that helped, Mayor James Damiano said:
“I know that the residents of Little Falls are deeply touched and forever are affected in a positive way by what you’ve done for them. The amount of work that your organization put in, in just two short days over the past two weekends, would’ve taken these individuals (the leaders in Little Falls) hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours to do. Because the combined man-hour time that you had here, and the number of hands that you had working, it would have been impossible for these people to have done what they’ve done to this point, but for your help.”
The International WeLoveU Foundation strives to deliver the unconditional love of a mother to the entire world. In hope of uniting the global village and nourishing the well-being of mankind, this initiative is just one of several leading actions that help accomplish this.