PLATTSBURGH — The devastation was tremendous.
“The first thing you notice is just pile after pile of people’s property out in front of their houses so the sanitation department can come pick it up,” James Carlin of Plattsburgh said, describing the scene on Staten Island during a recent trip to help Superstorm Sandy victims.
“Everything you can possibly think of — people’s whole lives — basically piled in a rubble pile on the side of the road.”
Beach grass, pieces of boardwalk and picnic tables littered people’s backyards; piles of rubbish 30 feet long and 7 to 8 feet high fronted most houses. Many basements still hadn’t had the seawater pumped out two weeks later.
When Carlin and several family members headed out from Plattsburgh, they brought along about 2,000 pounds of various cleaning supplies, water, clothing and blankets. They also brought cash quickly raised by the Lion’s Club and the North Country Mission of Hope.
Through a nephew, they hooked up with a volunteer group called Rebuild Staten Island.
They were assigned to assist a specific family trying to recover from the storm. The couple were pretty discouraged, Carlin said.
“They really hadn’t seen much progress in a matter of weeks, but just to hear the owner of the house laughing at one point ... was great.
“You know ... they just saw some progress and saw some hope,” he said
The significance of the trip wasn’t lost on Carlin’s son, 16-year-old Leagon.
“I’ll definitely take home a new perspective on things,” the younger Carlin said. “It’s just awful. (But) it shows how people can just come together from sadness.”
After their weekend of work in Staten Island, James Carlin said he isn’t adverse to the idea of making another trip to help in the storm-torn area.