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Axton couple helps Sandy storm victims
Working with Samaritan's Purse
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Axton residents Marcia Trimpey (back row, second from left) and her husband, Harold “Butch” Trimpey Jr. (back row, third from left), stand with other Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and an unidentified homeowner (front row at right) recently in front of a home in Island Park, N.Y. The volunteers helped provide disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. (Contributed photo)
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Friday, December 28, 2012

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin staff writer

An Axton couple recently traveled to New York to lend a hand to those in need.

Marcia Trimpey said she and her husband, Harold “Butch” Trimpey Jr., left their home Dec. 12 and drove to Island Park, N.Y., to help provide disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

That late October storm devastated the East Coast and killed more than 100 people, destroyed communities along the coasts of New York and New Jersey and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

The Trimpeys volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse, an organization led by Christian evangelist Billy Graham’s son, Franklin. It provides emergency relief programs and other help to those affected by “natural disaster, war, disease and famine,” according to the organization’s website.

The couple stayed in New York about four days. During that time, they helped demolish homes that were ruined in the storm, she said.

“We worked on five different homes. We pulled out old sheetrock, insulation and stuff like that” to prepare the home for another group of volunteers that would follow, Marcia Trimpey said.

The group members demolished the insides of the homes from 4 feet and lower, leaving the portions untouched by the storm intact, she said. They took out walls, insulation and other materials down to the subflooring, and in one case, the subflooring was removed.

A second group of volunteers was to spray the homes for mold, “which was a really big issue,” she said. After the spray has time to work, Trimpey said, another group of volunteers would help rebuild the homes.

She does not know the length of time between the work but hopes to return to help with the rebuilding, she said.

“We enjoyed it a lot,” Trimpey said of the project and getting to know the families who had lived in the homes where they worked.

Homeowners were required to be at the homes “while we were there working. We prayed with them, listened to them and helped with whatever we could,” she said.

Many stories were similar to the experience shared by a woman who now lives about 45 minutes away from the home where she had lived alone, Trimpey said. Her group worked on that home their final day.

“We connected with her a lot,” Trimpey said, explaining that the woman said the “hardest part of the storm was that everything she owned was sitting out on the sidewalk waiting for somebody to come and haul it away. It was the same story with most all” of the people the group worked with.

“Anything on the first level” of their homes was gone, ruined by the 4 feet of salt water and the 2 feet of sand that were swept into each home on the street where Trimpey’s group worked, she said.

“In the area that we were in, the thing that was interesting was that from the outside of the houses, you couldn’t tell” the homes had suffered storm damage, she said.

“All of the damage was inside, and on the street we worked on, every single person lost their vehicles” due to the surge of ocean and storm water, Trimpey said.

Her husband works on vehicles, and noted that “very few things were left on the vehicles that was salvageable,” Trimpey said. “Many people lost everything. Some homes were condemned and they are not going to be able to repair them.”

“We got there about six weeks after the storm, but when we were walking on the beach, we noticed these huge piles of sand,” she said. “We asked what they were” and were told that bulldozers went through the street shoveling up to 2 feet of sand in many areas. The sand was loaded onto trucks and brought to the beach and dumped.

“When I first heard about the storm, I wanted to go up there,” Trimpey said, and she recalled hearing about Samaritan’s Purse before. She filled out an application online the second week of November.

Her employer was “great and they just helped me” work out the time off, Trimpey said. Her husband works for his father, and “his dad was really supportive of it, too.”

The only drawback was not getting to help as many people as she had hoped.

“When you walk up and down the street and know all these homes need the same thing done, it’s hard,” she said. “That was the hardest part for me. I really wanted to stay and help more people.”

Because of the widespread damage, some people told the group “‘you really aren’t doing that much’” by only working on five homes, Trimpey said.

Then, she heard a story about a day when thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. All would die without some type of intervention, she said.

A little boy who was walking along the beach stopped periodically, picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean, she said.

An old man sitting nearby watched, and when the boy was within earshot, the old man said, “‘You’re not making any difference at all. There are thousands of them on the shore,’” Trimpey said she was told.

Before responding, the little boy stooped to pick up another starfish and throw it in the ocean. Standing back up, the boy looked at the old man, and said, “Well, I helped that one,” Trimpey said.

Trimpey said that is how she will try to view the situation. Still, “I would have liked to have helped a lot more people.”


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