By Adam Blaylock
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mercury One president, Joseph Kerry, met with leaders of faith-based organizations in New York on Wednesday, to assess damages and plan out recovery efforts.
Surveying the destruction left in the wake of the hurricane’s path across Coney Island, New York, Mercury One Kerry said the town had collapsed into total chaos, calling it “a war zone area.” Church leaders had been receiving calls from members of their congregations who had “boarded themselves within their own apartments, afraid to come out due to roving gangs of kids – which they called ‘wolf packs’ – who were terrorizing the neighborhood.”
In a haunting memorandum to Glenn Beck, Kerry wrote:
“Do you remember all of the Trump-owned buildings that line the Hudson River that you used to point out to me on the way to work? They were all dark last night. Not one light on in any of them. That entire area was dark. It was like a scene from ‘I Am Legend.’ No people, no lights, no noise – just empty.”
But one of the things that stood out most to Kerry and those that were with him was the silence of the media. While meeting with members of the New York Christian Resource Center (NYCRC), Kerry learned that no one else had visited that Coney Island community to offer help – no relief organizations or emergency management organizations. They had been left to fend for themselves.
“I think people hear about the flooding of New York City and think of rich people with big homes,” Kerry said. “Yes, that has happened. And yes, they need our help, too. But this area was devastated. No food, no water. Roaming armed gangs. We heard sirens from the moment we arrived until we left. I could not believe how quickly the chaos started.”
Some of the church leaders Kerry met with had worked with Mercury One and Operation Blessing earlier this year during a food drive connected to the Restoring Love event on July 28th, where 14 tractor trailers of food were sent to communities across the nation, including one on Coney Island.
In a video message to Glenn, Jim Esposito of the NYCRC commented on Mercury One’s assistance with the food drive and expressed gratitude for the additional assistance after hurricane Sandy:
“You have no idea what you guys have brought to us today – the hope that’s descended here in Coney Island, Brooklyn and beyond. You were the first people to come to this community, to this church and to see what we need. And that’s God’s honest truth. They didn’t know where they were going to turn today. And I’m glad that you were there. Thank you so much, sir.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Kerry said it was humbling to hear the church leaders talk about helping others even when their own church building had been severely damaged by the storm.
“When we arrived at the church we were going to it was dark,” he said, adding that “they didn’t have any power. We went inside and there was a group of religious leaders sitting around a wooden table with candles providing the only light.”
Kerry recalled being at the same church this summer after Restoring Love, when these same church leaders were integral to getting food and supplies to over 20 other needy churches in the area. “Now, these wonderful people were sitting around a wooden table with five lit candles burning, waiting to meet us,” he said.
To make matters worse, one church in the NYCRC network, the Coney Island Gospel Assembly Church, had its basement flooded with sewage that had been backed up from the sewer system below. The church’s situation was no different from many of the neighborhood homes and apartments, whose basements had also been flooded with filth.
Even in the middle of their own tragedy, the leaders of the church did their best to be good hosts to the Mercury One team that arrived, having brought bags of McDonald’s food so there would be something to eat at dinner time. Kerry said the church leaders, thinking more of their guests than themselves, “refused to eat any of the food.”
Even more impressive, the leaders of the church said they had no plans to apply for any government assistance out of concern for the restrictions which would accompany the money. And since the church leaders were so focused on helping the community, it took a while for Kerry to finally find out what the church itself needed help with.
“It was only after they were pressed to tell us how we could help them recover as a church did they finally tell us about the flooded basement and the destroyed water heater and the loss of other rooms due to flooding in the church.” (Sic)
In his memorandum to Beck, Kerry concluded with a heartfelt expression of gratitude: “Glenn, thank you. And thank you to your audience who is making a difference in the lives of people who believe they are alone, who are losing hope. We have teamed up with Operation Blessing and Somebody Cares to distribute relief supplies that are desperately needed.”
To learn more and to help support Mercury One in its effort to restore hope in times of disaster, go to www.mercuryone.org.