Rebuild. Recover. Life.

Superstorm Sandy: Snowfall immediately after hurricane. Photo Credit: ©2012 Debbie Nelson. All rights reserved.

Swift, sudden change requires a response. Those directly affected are challenged to the core. Who will band together to address the seemingly insurmountable task at hand?

After Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast fall 2012 – not your “typical Cat 1 storm” but a slow, relentless, chugging bulldozer-like push from ocean & sky to shore – a nucleus of powerhouse people congregated. One volunteered his local business as headquarters and the others flipped open their laptops to begin a social media explosion- a network that leaped off the website and sprung into tangible, real-life action. became an overnight sensation.

RebuildRecover began as a group of friends met at the Sounds to Go DJ’s office – one of the only places in town with electricity. With help from an expansive network, donated supplies were distributed and over $84,000 was raised. Photo Credit: ©2012 Debbie Nelson. All rights reserved.

My sons and I were on the road, traveling from Dallas down to the Gulf Coast, across through the Southeast, up to the Nation’s capital, and onward to NJ.  We gathered supplies generously donated by Internet friends, friends we made along the way, friends from college, and family friends. Everything from the truck we rode in, to the change for tolls, was provided by people who had a heart for helping. We accumulated so many supplies that my son bought a metal extension tray to hook into the trailer hitch. The mechanic at Walmart assembled it for us, since he couldn’t afford to donate.

The trip gave us a chance to do something tangible at a time in our own lives when our family unit was forever changed, and we were unable to restore it. So we banded together with our friends, and helped families who were less fortunate than us. Rebuild our own family identity. Recover from the shock of what changes us forever.

Remember the recent Olympic games, where the track was rather dimly lit until the champion runners crossed each part of the path, illuminating it? We had a week; we had a truck packed with donations; we knew where to begin; but we had no idea where it would lead – the path was shown to us one step at a time. Faith in action, and a lot of people praying for us along the way!

Photo Credit: ©2012 Debbie Nelson. All rights reserved.

Mid-week we connected with Rebuild Recover, the endlessly energetic crew of devoted locals. Being plugged into this group meant being ready, on-call, and ready to do whatever we could. It was a joy, privilege, and honor to work with people who are all busy achieving success in their own fields – people who laid down their own agenda to serve their fellow community members. I had no clue who to be impressed with due to their chosen careers – I was so busy being in awe of their vast resources and willingness to call on everyone they knew to ask for help.

On our way back - happy to have helped, sad to leave with so much work left to do
On our way back – happy to have helped, sad to leave with so much work left to do. Photo Credit: ©2012 Sara Marks. All rights reserved.

When I think of the aftermath of Sandy, and how I would define success, the Rebuild Recover approach is foremost in my mind. People who know each other. People willing to give. People grateful for what they have. People grateful to receive. One person + one person + one person… it all adds up to Rebuild. Recover. Life.

What steps have you taken toward your goals? Drop me a line!


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