Jersey Shore communities remain strong, resilient 9 years after Superstorm Sandy's devastation
Communities along the Jersey Shore have rebuilt stronger and resilient since Superstorm Sandy devastated them back in 2012.
Nine years ago, Superstorm Sandy, the worst natural disaster to ever hit New Jersey, made landfall near Atlantic City.
Its impacts were felt statewide and some of the worst damage happened along Barnegat Bay Island in Ocean County.
Superstorm Sandy devastated the community of Mantoloking as it damaged or destroyed every building. But it was the resilience of the community and its will to rebuild stronger and better that outweighed the power of Mother Nature.
"There's been nine years of amazingness in being able to help and serve the community with multiple different programs. Since Hurricane Sandy, we've helped rebuild and repair over 349 different homes, says Christie Winters, of Seeds of Service.
A few miles inland and away from the apocalyptic scene in Mantoloking, a church remained standing with electricity - by sheer luck.
Winters knew with those resources, her Brick Township parish could help many who had nothing left just over the Mantoloking Bridge.
It was from that moment that Seeds of Service was born.
"So, it started out we were just handing out meals - gutting homes and handing out meals to those who are in need," Winters recalls. "Downstairs in our parish basement, we were cooking food and bringing it right on site after Sandy."
The church obtained a building across the street, turned it into a food pantry, and a service center that provided anyone in Ocean County with much-needed supplies, help, and even employed special-needs students from a local high school.
"The community tells us what's in need and this is run by the community. There's an amazing group of people who come in and volunteer their time to make all 26 programs happen," Winters says.
Nine years after Sandy, Seeds of Service remains active, strong and an essential part of Ocean County's charitable organizations.
"We've also contributed into the community over $11 million in impact and from this we have discovered that our youth and young adults they mainly run the center here and it's just amazing," Winter says.
Sandy survivors still volunteer on the board for Seeds of Service because even long after the storm, the need for help in Ocean County remains.