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Displaced Residents 'Owe A Lot' to Lacey Shelter

The Lacey United Methodist Church continues to house nine people

When Tom and Lisa Pollaro returned to their Sunrise Beach home days after Hurricane Sandy struck, it was uninhabitable. The Barnegat Bay had surged into their home leaving little to recover.

“We went to the police station and said we’re homeless,” Lisa Pollaro, 49, said.

The couple was directed to the Lacey United Methodist Church, a place that had become a safe haven for locals offering showers, laundry machines, food, supplies and a place to sleep.

One month later, the shelter has become a home for some, including the Pollaros. Over a penne pasta and chicken nugget dinner, the new dwellers of the church joked and exchanged stories.

Nine people are still staying at the church as their homes sustained severe flood damage. More than 30 were residing there at one point.

“We walked into water,” Tom Pollaro, 73, said of when they returned home. “We lost everything.”

Three feet of water filled the Pollaro’s home. The carpets were drenched; a steel door was broken. Although most of their belongings were not salvageable, without contents coverage, they’re also not redeemable.

William Keyworth, 72, returned to his Laurel Boulevard home on the Wednesday after the storm.

“A lot of people were emptying their homes,” he said. “I couldn’t open the door. The fridge was on the floor. Everything was turned upside down.”

Needing a place to stay, Keyworth was also steered to the Lacey United Methodist Church.

“I just came for a shower, was invited for dinner and never left,” Albert Johnson, 78, of Beach Boulevard said. The backside of Johnson’s home had five feet of water. “I just felt the warmness here.”

At one point, Johnson returned to a friend and slept on a recliner chair only to go back to a warm bed at the church.

“This place is great. I owe a lot to them,” Pollaro said.

Those staying at the Lacey United Methodist Church sleep on cots and air mattresses in rooms in the church’s Parish Center.

During the days, when they aren’t gutting their homes, they do chores around the church as well as deliver food to other residents with damage.

Yesterday, Johnson did laundry.

“Whatever can be done, we do,” he said.

The Lacey United Methodist Church continues to send out teams to clean homes.

“I didn’t have the devastation others had so I have to give back to the community. It’s the right thing to do,” Rob Jorgensen, 41, said. Jorgensen wasn’t a member of the church but heard about the work they were doing and wanted to get involve.

“I was very lucky. I just got water in the yard. People are in need,” he said.

Jorgensen has been helping gut homes as well as assisting around the church.

A resident on Capstan Drive was on his last can of soup and broke down as Jorgensen handed him a warm meal, he said. A woman was heating her house with the stove and ran out of formula for her baby.

“All this stuff is still going on,” he said. “They’re struggling to make ends meet. I want to make a difference.”

But where do they all go from here?

“That’s it, we don’t know,” Johnson said.

Those displaced but staying at the church registered with FEMA but are still going through the process, step by step.

Keyworth was given $19,000 from FEMA but an estimate for work on his home was $51,000.

Pollaro was a $5,000 deductible to meet and was told to raise his home would cost more than $30,000.

“We’re at the bottom, most of us. There’s only one way to go and that’s up,” Johnson said.

One thing they do know is they’ll be forever connected to the Lacey United Methodist Church, although they weren’t originally members of the worship place.

“I am now,” Pollaro said.

“They’re stuck with us. We just love them,” Pastor Linda Applegate said of the temporary residents. “I’m so grateful. Even in a tragedy, it’s such a beautiful experience.”

The Lacey United Methodist Church will continue to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to the public through Sunday, Dec. 10.

A Christmas party will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 19 for all the families that the church serviced over the last month.

Those interested in volunteering on a clean up team can call Greg Edgecomb at 609-290-3643.

Although the church is no longer taking in donations, they are keeping a list of items. If you have any furniture, household supplies or other donations, call 609-693-5222.

robin December 06, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I love this story....I want to mention a funraiser I started for this church and the King of Kings church....we are going to be wrapping gifts at Boscov's in the OC mall on the 21st and 22nd and ALL the donations will be going to the churches....It won't be in the form of items, it will be cash...which I am sure they need....they are amazing, and we , as a community , want to help....if anyone out there wants to join us....go to my facebook page 'Hurricane Sandy Wrap Party' for all the info....Boscovs is doing a lot for us, as in setting up mutliple tables, putting out signs, doing internet advertisments, and supplying the wrapping paper, ect....SO, if you want to join in...give me a shout out
Stacy lee Nolan Amato December 06, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Love Lacey umc I stayed there for a few weeks and pastor Linda and everyone were so caring and kind to me and my roommate and even my Pomeranian pooky !!! Blessed to have been there and blessed to now attend there ! Blessed forums new house and family and friends I've met
Carol Wright December 06, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I think this is wonderful that so many people are coming together to help these people affected by the hurricane. Hats off to Boscovs and the many other businesses that continue to give. We have to remember them and support those businesses down the road. I'll go onto the Facebook page for more info on the hours needed for the wrapping.
tr December 07, 2012 at 01:57 AM
The Lacey Methodist Church construction demolition crew came to my home on two occassions and worked with genuine enthusiam and dedication to help rip out water drenched sheetrock and insulation. They did not have to, but they did. They demonstated what their religious beliefs has led them to believe. It is better to give than to recieve, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and no matter what, we are all God's children. In this day and age these simple beliefs are so often forgotten. These CHRISTIANS acted like CHRISTIANS are supposed to act and I thanked them for being who they are and setting an example that we should all, again , remember to emulate. Yeah, I gave them a check, but it was only money. The kindness they demonstrated was PRICELESS!!!! The big money churchs in Lacey should follow the example set by this little but,true CHRISTIAN organiztion.
Teacher4life December 07, 2012 at 02:22 AM
The LUMC is a role model for others in our town. They did not wait for the township to direct them, they were move to action through faith and need. They did not worry about the liability, but put the people of our town first. The Village Lutheran Church and their free tree removal and cutting followed on the same wings! It is wonderful that we have these people and forces in our town when we are in need and every other day of the year. God is smiling!

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