Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – A Fulton man was among those who raced to the Tri-State Region in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
David Lovell went to the area shortly after the storm and has been helping those who are in need ever since.
When he arrived at the bulk-donation warehouse in Jersey City, Lovell realized that he would be helping by doing a little bit of everything.
“I’ve jumped on a forklift when it’s been needed, I’ve driven the trucks around when it’s been needed, I’ve worked in the office when it’s been needed. Whatever is needed, it’s the mission that counts,” he said.
The mission is to deliver donations to Sandy victims as soon as possible.
Lovell coordinates transportation as tractor trailers haul in donations and trucks take off packed with survival kits continuously day and night.
“Out of the last 9 days I've been here, I've seen my hotel four times, and that has only been for a few hours each time,” Lovell said.
Lovell is the night-shift manager and has made it out of the warehouse to make deliveries just once.
“We went to a community area which was mostly young families and elderly and they had nothing. They had no heat, no electricity. We took down a load of blankets and before we left, they were gone,” Lovell said.
Everyday, groups of volunteers pack bags and boxes full of essential supplies.
About 400 different volunteers a day have been packing bags that include gloves, glow sticks, hand sanitizer, and blankets.
One volunteer group drove two hours from a high school in Philadelphia, where many of their own homes had been damaged by the storm.
“I like to give back to people, so this is a good chance to be able to do it for someone,” said Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School senior Marketa Johnson. “People have given it to me, so I want to give back to someone else.”
The warehouse still stocks 12 shelters and four kitchens, along with individual families that volunteers seek out.
Canadian Red Cross staffer Robbin Stephens of Vancouver has been serving on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.
“We’re doing a search and serve. So we are parading up and down the neighborhoods finding people who are out in their yards or it looks like there are people in the house and going up to them and asking if they’d like a cleanup kit,” Stephens said.
Many cleaning items like bleach are hard to come by on Long Beach Island as nearly every store is closed.
“As we're going up and down we're seeing a lot of debris and garbage that they've pulled out of their houses. They're ripping down drywall and the shovels are sturdy enough that they're an aid to ripping down the dry way so it's really helping,” said Stephens.
The gratitude and the helpfulness of the residents impacted by the storm keeps volunteers like Lovell motivated.
“It's helping so many thousands of people and I know when I was delivering the blankets I was hearing thank you so many times from so many different people - including a young child that just came up and hugged me. That made the sleepless nights worth it right there,” he said.