Bergen County has had a Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) group in place for many years already. Before Hurricane Irene hit the area, Rebuilding Together Bergen County joined VOAD to help residents in the county in all the the special ways that they can. Rebuilding Together Bergen County came to find that their alliance with the Bergen VOAD and other groups in the area ended up allowing residents to be more prepared for Hurricane Sandy. This allowed the Bergen VOAD to help connect groups and other organizations willing to help much faster to residents who needed crucial assistance once Hurricane Sandy left the area.
The Recovery Information Center, located in the lower level of the First Presbyterian Church in Moonachie, is where Bergen VOAD meets and also where the residence of Bergen County can find a caseworker to help them connect with those that are able to help. This is where Mr. Mallet and his family found Ana Chawla, his case worker, who has partnered with Tess Tomasi, a Storm Recovery Project Manager with Bergen VOAD and the Hurricane Sandy Long Term Recovery Center. Mr. Mallet’s daughter, Jen, read a notice about the Recovery Information Center in Moonachie around Memorial Day weekend and quickly stopped in with her father to see if they could help him beyond the $5,000 he had already received from FEMA.
Prior to finding that notice, Mr. Mallet had been living with Jen and her family in Clifton, New Jersey. Although Jen, her husband Eric and their children Jeffrey (11) and Mariah (7) have enjoyed having him there with them, she knew her father wanted to go home. Maurice Mallet and his wife raised their son and daughter in the house on Grand Avenue. Both of his children have two kids of their own so Mr. Mallet is a proud grandfather to four wonderful grandkids.
Unfortunately, Mr. Mallet lost his wife less than two years before Hurricane Sandy came to town so, the house holds fond memories and used to hold many family possessions before the storm damaged both. When the news of the storm’s potential was revealed, Jen brought her father to ride out the storm with her family in Clifton. Mr. Mallet was safely nestled with his daughter before the storm hit North Jersey on the evening of October 29th and this meant he was one of those fortunate to not have to be rescued by boat like many of the other residents of Little Ferry.
Once Little Ferry was determined to be safe to return to, Mr. Mallet’s children started the clean-out process as he couldn’t face the house after the damage. After three dumpsters worth of belongings were removed, his case worker Ana mentioned that he had little hope of ever seeing the house as his home again. For years he had talked about fixing the first-floor bathroom and then finally redid it just before the floodwaters swept in, completely destroying his first floor and the newly remodeled bathroom.
Mr. Mallet was a member of the National Guard and going to the Recovery Information Center in search of assistance was tough for him. He is extremely grateful for the assistance he is receiving. Bergen VOAD had a Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund grant and therefore was able to have his house inspected in June for mold so that the remediation process could be done in July.
Now Rebuilding Together Bergen County is coming to help finish the rebuilding process so Mr. Mallet can return home. To show his gratitude, he will be donating the ramp that was initially built for his wife’s use when she was to return home. The family is graciously let Rebuilding Together Bergen County take the ramp so that it can be used on the home of anyone else in need of it. Even in his time of need he is still giving back to those in his community.