Editors note: Amanda Lamb is in the northeast United States this week reporting on clean-up and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy tore through the region two weeks ago.
As far as the eye can see, there is devastation in the Northeast.
People’s lives are spilled out on the streets in dirty piles. Things that were once treasures are now trash – trash that no one is picking up. The piles are so high that some people can barely see out their front door, if they still have one, that is.
To add insult to obvious injury, the weather has turned gray, cold and rainy – a reminder of what is to come in a typical Northeastern winter.
But there is nothing typical about the impending winter for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Many of them are still without power and, still, others have no homes at all.
But in the midst of all of the rubble, there are little glimmers of hope embodied in volunteers who have come from all over the country to lend a hand in their time of dire need.
Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s disaster relief group out of Boone, rolls up in its fancy tractor-trailers with equipment and resources intended to last for months.
But there is nothing fancy about their response.
They dig in, literally, and begin the messy job of taking out soggy walls and floors in someone’s flooded home. And they do it over, and over, and over again.
The North Carolina Baptist Men are equally present and helpful.
One relief manager tells me with tears in his eyes that he must help, that this work is a calling for him. He tells me he wants to be there for anything the hurricane victims need.
And while the need is great, the victims are not greedy. Instead, they're grateful for all of the help they are getting from their Southern visitors who know the power and devastation of hurricanes only too well.
In fact, the victims also tear up when they talk about the volunteers, the help they are getting from total strangers in brightly colored T-shirts with funny accents and boundless energy.
One homeowner, Amy, in New York told us she can’t stop hugging the volunteers because of the difference they are making for her and her neighbors.
Another woman, Lee, in New Jersey told me she had watched images of hurricane damage in other places for years on the news and always thought, "I feel so bad for those people." Now, she is one of those people.
She told me she is so appreciative of the help and hopes to someday pay it forward.
And you know what? I think she will.