Encouraged After the Storm

November 8, 2012 • United States

Samaritan's Purse helps a New Jersey couple remain upbeat when we arrive to help clean up their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

As superstorm Sandy churned up the nearby bay, Bobbi Ewing had special reason to keep a close eye on the tides from her cozy family home in Somers Point, New Jersey.

She and her husband Terry couldn’t simply walk to the car and leave as many others had done. Terry, a diabetic who suffered a stroke five years ago, has been bedridden for the past two years.

When floodwaters in the streets reached a discomforting but still manageable level, Bobbi called an ambulance and the Ewings went to the hospital.

The hospital tried to send Terry back home because he was not suffering any new medical problems, but by that time floodwaters in low-lying areas of southern New Jersey already had reached dangerous heights. Terry and his health aide were allowed to stay while Bobbi sought higher ground, staying with her brother, Wayne Gregory, and his family.

She returned home the next day to find a soggy, muddy mess. Bobbi, who said she’s never seen flooding like this before, was devastated. The house has been in her family for more than six decades; she and Terri moved in after her mother died a few years ago. She hopes to pass the residence on to her daughter in the future.

While Terry was moved to Wayne’s house, Bobbi began cleaning up. A church friend later told her that Samaritan’s Purse had deployed to Atlantic County. Our base there at Linwood Community Church is one of four we established in New Jersey and New York to help people affected by the storm.

It wasn’t long before a team of 13 Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived at the Ewing’s home. They were like “a swarm of bees,” Bobbi said. Good bees, that is. In just a couple hours they shoveled out the mud and muck, removed appliances ruined by the salt water, got rid of soggy insulation, and cleaned the backyard—all done for free in Jesus’ Name.

“It means the world,” she said. “I can use the money I’m saving for other things to get it [the house] fixed up faster.”

When the Samaritan’s Purse team completed their work, Bobbi was informed that they had another gift for her. “You’ve [already] given me the biggest gift I can imagine,” she responded.

The team presented her with a Bible signed by those who worked on the home. After praying together, Bobbi said, “I love every one of you too. Come back in about two months and I’ll cook you all dinner.”

Bobbi acknowledged that the volunteers encouraged her faith. There was a time when she avoided church services, but about a decade ago, she returned to corporate worship.

“I’m glad I’m a Christian,” she said. “They [body of Christ] will help and remember you all the time.”

The volunteers were just as encouraged by Bobbi’s upbeat attitude as she was by them. She showed some of her techniques for pulling nails and extended grace, whether through kind words or a hug. Her calm demeanor was a witness to the team.

Always positive, she even made light of the damage her home suffered. Considering the walls ruined by flooding, she wryly remarked, “I’ve not liked this paneling for a long time.”

<i>Note: After the volunteers left, Bobbi invited a Samaritan’s Purse writer and photographer to meet Terry, who was still staying at Wayne’s home. Despite his condition and the circumstances, Terry was just as upbeat as his wife. They enjoyed a brief time of prayer and laughter together.</i>