by Aaron Burns

HUNTERSVILLE – Jim Beaty had seen enough.

After viewing television news reports on Hurricane Sandy’s devastation in New Jersey in late October, Beaty and his wife, Laurie, decided they had to help. So, Laurie Beaty, a native of Lakewood, N.J., and her husband initiated an idea that quickly turned into a community effort.

The Beatys solicited help from 50 others, who donated items including clothes, diapers, flashlights, batteries and food to their cause. The Beatys, with help from several of those neighbors, packed the donations sent to the Garden State.

“My house looked like a Goodwill,” Jim Beaty said, noting that the first
U-Haul truck they rented was too small. “We had to get a larger truck. It was amazing how we packed all the donations in there.”

The Beatys went to New Jersey on Nov. 7 and stayed until Nov. 11, helping residents of Lakewood, Toms River and Belmar with debris removal and home repairs.

Jim Beaty said their primary work turned out to be tearing down parts of destroyed houses and tearing out drywall because mold had set in. At one house, he shoveled fish off the front porch.

“We worked on seven houses. Six of them were pretty much complete losses,” he said. “It was amazing how much damage there was. There were a lot of people helping, and there was plenty of work to be done.”

Laurie Beaty agreed.

“It was worse than we thought,” she said. “But everybody we saw was extremely grateful.”

The couple’s efforts were buoyed by others from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Florida.

“(After) watching it on TV, you just felt like you had to do something,” he said.

“It really hit home to us because my wife is from there, we’ve been up there before and we decided we needed to do what we could to help.”

Laurie Beaty said there wasn’t a specific landmark she noticed that jogged her memory. It was everything around Lakewood.

“I encourage anybody who has the time to go and help,” she said. “It won’t be fixed overnight.”

Other residents also pitched in.

Cornelius resident Bob Watson and Tony Pope worked with Lake Norman Chrysler and Mercedes of South Charlotte to send two 53-foot tractor-trailers to hurricane victims.

One truck went to Egg Harbor, N.J. The other went to Staten Island, N.Y. The trucks contained water, food, clothing and blankets.

Watson said he felt compelled to do whatever he could to help.

“I called Red Cross, I called everybody, and they gave me the run-around,” Watson said. “So I decided to take matters into my own hands and do it. I’m still tired from loading the trucks, but it was worth it.”