In and Around Hannibal: New Jersey Mission

by Rita Hooper

I write you today from Hamilton Square, N.J., a short 45 minute drive to Ortley Beach. Ortley Beach is one of the town’s most severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy — not far at all from the famous roller coaster that was seen by millions resting in the ocean. I am here with members of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery and four members of a Presbytery (think district) from South Korean.

Some of my readers will remember that three years ago the Women’s Choir from Korea was here visiting and three of the ladies stayed with me in Hannibal. We had a ball despite the fact that they didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Korean. I took them to the Osteo class in Hannibal, Ontario Orchards and the Jammers among other stops.

This year the delegations wanted to do a joint mission project together, which led us to Ortley Beach. Time has sort of stood still since the hurricane. Many of the homes have been demolished and their foundations and crawl spaces have been reclaimed by sand and debris. Many stand or lean waiting for demolition and others are in varying stages of rehabilitation.

But these houses were once homes as evidenced by an odd shoe here and a puzzle piece there, a clothesline partially buried in the sand, a NY Yankees kick ball in need of air, a Giants towel serving as a curtain in the living room window and an American flag hanging across a front door. The curbs are littered with piles of siding and wood scraps — trash is picked up several times a week. There are signs of hope.

The streets are a buzz with activity as the homes are being worked on — you can see evidence that many groups have sent people to volunteer and help. Trucks carrying building materials and construction workers are easily spotted. The house next door to the house we were working on, was surrounded by scaffolding as new windows and siding were being put in.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News

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