On the evening of October 29th, 2o12, as Hurricane Sandy ripped through my home state of New Jersey, no one could have imagined the path of destruction she would have left behind. The two days prior to this, we scored some amazing waves in Florida, it seemed like it might have been just another storm like Hurricane Bill in 2009. As I was watching news that evening, reading updates online and calling and texting friends and family, I realized that this was no ordinary hurricane.
Being a thousand miles away from my family and friends on the Jersey shore was bittersweet. I found myself getting ‘survivor's guilt' as they call it, where you feel bad that you're not suffering along with those you love. Immediately, I knew I had to do something to contribute and get home soon.
The past two weeks since then have been such an emotional whirlwind. All of us on this planet are so susceptible to Mother Nature's mood swings. I heard first hand stories from friends about looting and shoot outs and people drowning in their own homes and waves plowing through homes and floating cars and boats across streets. Families living in tents in the woods. Friends of mine lost everything they owned including their homes and cars. Hundreds of thousands of families still without power for weeks living in darkness.
We are so dependent on technology and convenience, but at any given time, we are potentially a week or two away from anarchy. It's so important for us to remain united, not just within our communities or counties but across the globe. Human need and natural disasters have no political or social boundaries.
As horrific as this experience has been, there are a lot of beautifully inspiration stories. Communities supporting each other, guarding each others homes and sharing resources and meals. People donating their time and money and putting superficialities behind them. Surreal scenes like seeing Halloween kids ‘trick or treating' a week after Halloween brought some sense of normalcy to the communities who were forced to postpone their children's celebrations. Shelters set up and donation centers organized gave people purpose and momentum to do good.
Here's some of what I've been doing , this is just the beginning. I have some links below with various ways to contribute. I hope all of us, myself included can focus more on the millions of people who are starving and homeless everyday irregardless of weather patterns. This is a wake up call.
(Above) First days of November – My family's Martial Art's school, The Karate Dojo became a main local hub for donations and volunteers. My brother Eric Alders gained full support of local police and government and organized trucks of donations that were being delivered daily. We were able to get local radio announcements and social networks to have supplies from around the country coming in.
(Above) November 4th – ESM Magazine had organized a truck of donations and a string of drop off points along the drive from central Florida's coast up to New Jersey, where the ESM co-founder Dick Messeroll is from. I had been on the phone with Nate Adams the days prior to this helping as much as I could and met up with the ESM crew in Jacksonville.
(Above) November 5th -My wife Chelsea and I along with our friend Colleen who is also a Jersey native that lives in Florida organized a donation drop off site in Atlantic Beach, Florida. With the help of our friends from Void Magazine and caring folks in the area, we eventually filled up a large truck of donations for the Hurricane victims. Then it was on it's way up to NJ and NY to those who needed it most. Action News was on the scene doing a live broadcast during our event.
November 7th – 12th -We went to New Jersey. I was greeted by another Nor'Easter dumping 7+ inches of snow on us along with power outages and more fallen trees.
(Above) – My first view of the damage. This was literally a few blocks from my old home in Belmar, New Jersey. 10-15 foot high, hundred of yards in length of rubble. What was left of people's homes and personal belongings piled up near the marina. After this we dropped off more donations and toured the battered area that I love so much.
HOW TO HELP
Please donate time, money or supplies. Here's the best places I've found to focus your support.
Rebuild Recover – – This is a new, grassroots non-profit organization called “Rebuild Recover” which is an organization co-founded by my friend and pro-surfer, Luke Ditella and several other dedicated locals. I designed this logo which is now being sold on T-Shirts to help raise money for the relief efforts. You can donate monetarily via their website, 100% goes towards hurricane victims and the restoring the NJ/NY coastline. RebuildRecover.org
Waves For Water Hurricane Sandy Relief Initiative –WavesForWater.org
Monmouth and Ocean Food Bank – Foodbankmoc.org