Social media helps recovery from Sandy in NJ

November 20, 2012 2:59:24 PM PST
Action News was there as one group of volunteers was demolishing the inside of a flooded-out home in Brick, donating time to a group called We Are Team Jersey.

It was started by Shannon Ruvelas of Jackson, N.J. with a Facebook post and a couple friends.

"Whoever can help me, the next thing I know ten friends from Facebook show up and they're helping people in need and then it grew to 2300 people on Facebook coming together," said Shannon.

For Walter and Jill Bennett, the couple who've lived here for 33 years, the team is a godsend.

"I mean we don't even know these people," said Jill. "It's just a blessing, just a blessing."

"You can't imagine living anywhere else," said Walter. "So we'll stay here now, thanks to these people, until they carry us out!"

We Are Team Jersey is one of dozens of online groups that have formed to help coordinate storm cleanup and collect and distribute donations to victims. They include groups like Jersey Strong and Rebuild the Jersey Shore, which has 70,000 followers.

Two brothers from Colorado are among the volunteers helping demo the Bennett's house.

"Wanted to help, tired of watching stuff on the news," said Steve Laga. "Wanted to be part of something. Wanted to help."

"All I'm looking for is a handshake and a hug and that's it," said volunteer Mark Wierbicki. "And it's the best feeling in the whole world."

Shannon and her crews do two, maybe three houses a day. And when they need materials for their demo and cleanup work they look to another online group called Project Rebuild & Recover, which has a warehouse full of donated goods in Monmouth County.

"Some days if she needs a crowbar I put it out on Facebook," said volunteer Ashley Kristofferson of Project Rebuild and Recover. "Within an hour, I have a crowbar."

It's clear thousands who want to help Sandy's victims are turning to social media and the internet.

The We Are Team Jersey volunteers will continue with their demolition work and promise to come back to help rebuild these homes. And to think this massive effort started with a couple clicks of a mouse!


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