Local News

NC-based Samaritan's Purse reaches out to Sandy-ravaged victims

Posted November 13, 2012
Updated November 14, 2012

— A normal life stopped two weeks ago for Joseph Errico, of Island Park, N.Y., a town on the south shore of Long Island, when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeast.

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Like so many others in the region, his home of 12 years was destroyed when more than 3 feet of water flooded the house he shares with his sister.

"It was unbelievable, the worst thing I could ever imagine," Errico said Monday. "You couldn't prepare for a storm like this."

With the help of Samaritan's Purse, a non-denominational Christian humanitarian group based in Boone, Errico plans to rebuild his home.

"They've worked with me all day on the house – tirelessly," Errico said. "It's a big burden off my shoulders, because me and my sister couldn't do it all by ourselves."

Samaritan's Purse has four sites in New York and New Jersey and more than 2,000 volunteers working to feed and comfort storm victims and help remove debris from homes, like Errico's.

"This is addictive, highly addictive," said Tim Haas, of Raleigh, who is U.S. disaster relief manager for Samaritan’s Purse. "When you help somebody like this and you make such a difference in their lives, you want to do it again and again and again."

In nearby Long Beach, volunteers are also helping Amy Pecker, a 40-year resident, and her family, who narrowly escaped as a storm surge crashed down onto her street and 6 feet of water flooded into her home.

Joseph Errico Samaritan's Purse reaches out to Sandy-ravaged victims

"We grabbed the animals and the kids, and we ran through the water, not knowing … and waited it out and just prayed and hoped that we would survive," she said.

"This is the first week I can actually do something to try and rebuild my life," she added. "The Samaritans basically saved my life. They took down my whole basement, because, at this point, (we're) not getting any help from the government."

Disasters, like Sandy, and the lives thrown into chaos after such events are nothing new for the group.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the organization kept a relief presence in the area for more than five years.

Pastor Katelynn Chapman, of The Berkshire Dream Center in Pittsfield, Mass., volunteered in the Katrina-ravaged area and is now in New York.

"The devastation is a lot greater, I think, because (the area is) so concentrated," Chapman said.

"This storm, hitting where it has in New Jersey and New York, is really unique because of the high-density population," Haas said. "There are so many houses that have been flooded – thousands of houses that have been flooded."

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Still, Rev. Franklin Graham, chief executive officer for Samaritan's Purse, says nothing can prepare volunteers for what they see and experience and the people's lives they touch.

"It just breaks your heart when you see (the devastation). You never get used to something like this," Graham said. "Sometimes, people look at this, and you think, 'My whole world has just come apart.' But God loves us. He hasn't forgotten us."

Still, help can't come fast enough.

"The need is huge, and I don't know how we're going to meet it all," Graham said. "It's going to take an army of volunteers."

Haas says that, while the outpouring of volunteerism in New York has been overwhelming so far, Samaritan's Purse will face a challenge as the weather gets colder.

"It’s going to be harder and harder to get volunteers to come to this area and respond to these people," he said. "So, we're just trying to get as many people out on sites as we can to make a difference for people while we can."

For Errico, the volunteers are making a huge difference for his family. They plan to stay in Island Park.

"I've been here since 1964," he said. "I'm not looking to leave. This is home."


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  • Grand Union Nov 14, 2012

    ". I was pleasantly surprised when I learned the purpose of SP isn't to save people's homes or their belongings. Much more importantly, it's to save their souls. "

    is this sarcasm?

  • pelosi-rulz Nov 14, 2012

    What? This must be a scam... those people in ny and nj are fine and don't need our help.

    Obama went up and saved them all by himself. Didn't you hear it on the news? Heck msnbc was glad the storm came and killed a bunch of people so obama would look good saving the rest.

    Nothing to see up there anymore, they all are all safe and sound.

  • cushioncritter Nov 14, 2012

    Another way to do secession is to let these all-knowing NY-ers take care of themselves when the wrath of God is upon them, when they "do not that which is right".

  • Honesty first Nov 14, 2012

    And I believe I read where Franklin is paid $1.2 million per year by the organization that he took over from his father, the BGEA

  • ncnative1 Nov 14, 2012

    SP is the most well run and organized group I have ever worked with--and I have done a tremendous amount of work with Habitat. I volunteered with Samaritan's Purse after Hurricane Isaac earlier this year, and I'm going with SP to NJ next month. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned the purpose of SP isn't to save people's homes or their belongings. Much more importantly, it's to save their souls.

    If you want to change other peoples' lives for the better, and gain a completely different perspective on what it means to help your fellow man, volunteer with SP!

  • Whosays Nov 14, 2012

    If more people would help out these victims instead of trying to find fault of the charity then maybe they would get through this sooner!

  • lasm Nov 14, 2012

    Grand Union: "Its a scam. Franklin pays himself over $400,000 a year for other peoples work from Samaritans Purse alone."


    Fron the 2009 Report: Programs: 89% Fund Raising: 6% Administrative: 5%

    89% of expenses used for their programs-that is a wonderful record for The Lord's work. What part of our income and expenses have we used for The Lord's work?

  • lasm Nov 14, 2012

    tsquaring: "No surprise they're helping. Now let the God hating trolls jump in..."

    I think they already have.....please say a prayer for them that He will "heap fires of coal upon their heads" (I think I got that verse right)

  • lasm Nov 14, 2012

    Grand Union: "Its a scam. Franklin pays himself over $400,000 a year for other peoples work from Samaritans Purse alone."

    In all sincerity, the only thing we can say for you is prayers. When millions of people share in their Lord's work, and someone belittles it and calls it a scam, the "Light" has certainly not shined on them; and they need all the prayers those of faith can send up. God bless you......f

  • Grand Union Nov 14, 2012

    "Wow, I didn't know this group was based out of little old Boone! Show 'em how it's done without govt programs!"

    Its a scam. Franklin pays himself over $400,000 a year for other peoples work from Samaritans Purse alone.