After Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeastern coast of the country in late October, the news came out quickly that the storm had resulted in more destruction than originally anticipated.
The storm killed at least 193 people and is estimated to have caused $20 billion in property damage. Approximately 120,000 residents of New York and New Jersey were still without power as of Monday.
Capt. Pat Yoes, public information officer with the St. Charles Parish Sheriffís Office and national board member of the Fraternal Order of Police, said it was an easy decision to board a plane from New Orleans to help out with relief efforts.
"When Hurricane Katrina hit, New Jersey was one of the first ones to come down and lend support. For two weeks they stayed down here and helped us distribute supplies," Yoes said. "So itís just a strong friendship there."
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, officers from New Jersey set up a mobile kitchen in St. Charles Parish and stayed in dorm-like settings at Destrehan High School as they helped with local relief efforts.
"So fast forward – Hurricane Sandy comes and hits the East Coast up around New Jersey and New York. So what I ended up doing was flying into D.C. and hooking up with the D.C. (FOP) lodge and driving with them in a U-Haul full of equipment and supplies and we went to Long Beach Island," Yoes said. "We set up a tent where we fed pretty much everybody on the island for five days who didnít have the resources out there."
Having gone through emergency operations during Hurricane Isaac this year, Yoes had recent experience in hurricane relief efforts. However, he said the destruction he saw in New Jersey was much worse than what Louisiana received during Isaac.
"This storm was probably equivalent to Isaac in terms of wind and flooding, at least flooding when you look at St. John and probably parts of Plaquemines Parish," Yoes said. "The only difference is that there is such a greater population there that the amount of homes and businesses that flooded are probably ten to fifteen times more than they were on Hurricane Isaac."
Yoes said another difference was the weather after the hurricane.
"I slept in a U-Haul. It was cold. It was really cold. It stayed probably in the 40s at night in the 30s, but the wind was constant so it was probably like 20 miles per hour," Yoes said. "We kept warm by standing around a barrel."
Yoes reported sand drifts up to twenty feet high on some parts of the island, which damaged numerous homes and displaced thousands of people including a number of police officers.
"In the second and third day I got together a crew and gutted the houses of the officers so they could concentrate on doing their job right without having to worry about doing mitigation to their property," he said. "We basically cut four foot of sheet rock out and let the houses dry out."
After a four-day stay in the area, Yoes headed back home.
"It brought back a lot of memories, but at the same time it was very rewarding," Yoes said. "The area where we were at they really had no assistance. The first I saw FEMA was the day I was leaving. They were on their own for five or six days. Itís not unlike what we had here. It was quite some time before resources made it here and we had to make due for ourselves.
"It was a pretty interesting experience. We did some good there."
Yoes said the FOP is taking donations through its website, www.fop.net, to help law enforcement officers who were affected by the storm.
In addition to Yoes, other St. Charles Parish residents helped out during the storm as well.
Entergy sent two work trucks with four workers from the parish to help restore power during the storm.
Included in the group were James Plaisance, James Smith, Matt Mollere, Keith Painter and Larry Tatman.
"It is such a great feeling to go where we are needed to restore power and help others who are in the same situation that we have been in. Conditions are harsh, however the payoff comes when lights go on and smiles come to peopleís faces," Painter said.
Arabie Trucking, the St. Charles Parish Retired and Volunteer Program, Heaven on Earth Day Spa and American Legion Post 131 are collecting items for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Trucks will be leaving Nov. 18 to deliver items for Thanksgiving.
Items needed include coats, blankets, sweaters, baby supplies, canned goods, paper products, cleaning supplies, pet supplies and any other items you think would be needed.
Items may be dropped off at the following sites:
•Heaven on Earth Day Spa, 613 Paul Maillard Road, Luling from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. until Nov. 15
•RSVP Office, 171 Keller Street, Hahnville from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 16
If you need items to be picked up, please call (985) 783-8907 or (985) 817-0947.
|(Top) Mike Kruggel, of Tennessee, Shane Schapiro, of Maryland, and Capt. Pat Yoes, of Destrehan, all ventured to New Jersey to help residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (Below) A damaged home on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.|