It's off to Sea Bright
KATIE WARGO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Summit Hill Fire Police Captain Len Ogozalek, left, carries a box to be packed by volunteers into a 53-foot trailer to head to Sea Bright, N.J. as Lansford volunteer firefighter Chris Aungst, foreground center, and Summit Hill volunteer firefighter Tony O'Gorman look on. The men are just a few of the almost 100 volunteers that helped pack boxes and load the tractor trailer bound for New Jersey Saturday morning.
By this time tomorrow, residents of Sea Bright, N.J. will be receiving a 53-foot trailer full of food, water, clothing, housewares and practically everything needed to refurnish a town that was devastated nearly two weeks ago by Superstorm Sandy.
This is all thanks to the generosity of hundreds of residents of Carbon County and the surrounding region who stepped up and donated time, talent and thousands of items enough to fill at least one tractor trailer and then some. Volunteers worked evenings all week at the Summit Hill Community Center to sort, pack and organize donations in preparation for packing and transport to Sea Bright.
"I am speechless about the amount of support that this event has received. There is no way I can possibly express my thanks enough," said organizer Kevin Steber who along with his fiancee, Kira Michalik and friend Franklin B. Klock organized an effort with the Batters' Box bar and restaurant in Summit Hill one week ago to help the hurricane ravaged community.
Within 24 hours, the effort became a Panther Valley wide effort and by Monday, the entire Carbon County was involved. At that point, the story was picked up by the TIMES NEWS, TV-13 and WNEP-TV 16 and Steber said the event mushroomed into a regional event.
"People have come from all over northeastern PA to help us with this," he said.
Steber said the mayor and the fire chief's girlfriend know the tractor trailer is coming, but his colleague, Fire Chief Chad Murphy, has no idea anything more than a fleet of service vehicles are coming from Kovatch Motor Enterprises to help repair the emergency vehicles. Instead when they arrive in the morning they will be accompanied by at least one tractor trailer and box truck both full of supplies to help the residents of the Sea Bright area get back on their feet.
Steber said the situation, which was already severe was made worse by the Nor'easter that dumped over six inches of heavy, wet snow on the region already devastated by Hurricane Sandy. He said the few houses and buildings that survived were collapsing under the weight of the second storm's precipitation.
Final call for dropping off supplies will begin at 6 p.m. tonight at the Summit Hill Community Center and the volunteers will finish loading the trucks in preparation for the trip tomorrow morning. The trucks will leave Summit Hill at 6:30 a.m. with drivers from KME and will head to Nesquehoning to meet the KME Service Fleet before heading to Sea Bright, where the trucks will be unloaded in coordination with their mayor's efforts.
Steber said there were so many businesses and people who pitched in to help with donations that he could not possibly name them all, but he is so deeply touched and appreciative of the support that this initiative has received since the event started. Facebook and social media were instrumental tools in spreading the word and many of the volunteers actually learned about it through social media.
He asked that as the caravan leaves in the morning that everyone keeps them in their thoughts and prayers as the journey to New Jersey will be challenging due to the widespread destruction.