Kristina Parise Alternative Spring Break 2019

Until this week, I didn’t understand how much work still needed to be done years after a natural disaster. While working on two separate houses on the Jersey Shore not only did I realize just how much damage still needs to be fixed but how much Superstorm Sandy really impacted families all over the coast. The past two days I had the opportunity to help rebuild two separate houses on the Jersey Shore, one in Long Branch, NJ and one in Seaside Park, NJ, and both really showed me just how devastating natural disasters really are. Going on this trip really hit home for me. As a young adult that grew up on the Jersey Shore and lived through Sandy, seeing how much still needs to be done really affected me on a more personal level than I originally thought it was going to.

Lucky for me, I was one of 15 other student chosen to go on this trip, and help two different individual in need. The first house I was able to work on was the one in Long Branch, NJ, where we painted the whole house from floor to ceiling. The second house I went to today was in Seaside Park, NJ, a block away from the beach and a few blocks away from the famous Seaside Boardwalk. There, we painted doors, put down tile in the kitchen, and hardwood floors in the living room (which was actually surprisingly fun). It was amazing to help people who had everything taken away from them. Because of us, people who had these hardships for the past seven years finally get a piece of mind knowing that they are going home. One individual lived in the same house for over 50 years, just to have it taken away from him. We were able to help him get his house back, and that alone is an amazing feeling.

When one moves onto the shore, specifically houses right on the water, they run the risk of flooding. Not only from hurricanes, but just plain rain and high tides. Shore towns all along the coast are known to have flooded roads during storms, and many houses now have to be lifted. What people do not understand is that this is happening more frequently each year; with more storms, more floods, more houses in ruins, and more families devastated. Many want to turn a blind eye on to what the real problem is: climate change. Because of climate change there have been more storms and more droughts happening year after year in places one would never think of, but there has yet to be major movements to stop it from happening. I would like to believe our efforts will have a long-term impact on the lives of these families, but what if there is another Superstorm Sandy within the next 5-10 years? And their houses get destroyed again? All because of failed or minuscule efforts by society to stop climate change from happening? What I feel is even worse is that after every hurricane or flood that occurs, more debris and man made material is going back into our oceans, polluting our earth more and more. When will we finally decide to take the major steps to stop it?