A group of 10 New Jersey teens traveled to Houston over the Labor Day holiday weekend to help Hurricane Harvey victims.
The teens were part of New Jersey’s chapter of the Orthodox Union’s organization NCSY. They passed out supplies and knocked down debris of what used to be homes.
“They kept thanking us for what we were doing. I finally said to one of the homeowners, ‘We’re destroying your house. We’re tearing up your walls. We’re ripping out your kitchen cabinets and you keep smiling and thanking us.’ And she said to us ‘It’s only possessions,’” says NCSY Regional Director Rabbi Ethan Katz.
But some of those possessions represent life’s mile-markers.
“It’s terrible. It’s like their lives are being taken away and destroyed,” says volunteer Shira Glicksman. “I threw out someone’s military uniform and it was all moldy.”
Jacob Tollinsky tells News 12 New Jersey that he had to take a step back when he learned about one elderly woman’s fate after the storm.
“Unfortunately she wasn’t able to get out and she drowned,” Tollinsky says. “When they came in to get her body, the whole place was looted. It really made me think.”
The teens say that despite some of the darker moments they experienced, they witnessed a lot of love, such as people handing out food and water and those helping the people of Houston in other ways.
NCSY leaders say that they plan on going back to Houston six times this year and will be there next year as well.