For Finch, damage from Hurricane Sandy hit close to home

Raffle aimed at helping victims rebuild lives
By Tanya Mitchell | Jan 10, 2013
Courtesy of: Jerri Finch An image of Seaside Heights, N.J., depicts the destruction left behind by Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the region at the end of October.

Belfast — Local artist Jerri Finch remembers spending summers on the New Jersey shore and creating lasting memories with her seven siblings.

Some of Finch's siblings chose to build lives in the place where the family enjoyed those vacations during the 1960s.

However, life has been far from a vacation in that part of the country since Hurricane Sandy swept through the region at the end of October and rendered many homeless due to its crippling damage. According to national media reports, roads are still in disrepair, power lines remain down and damaged, and some residents are just now gaining access to their homes — or what's left of them.

"My brother Jim owns a house in South Seaside Park, and he was denied access to his home until just this weekend," Finch said.

Finch's sister Sharon was renting a home in Little Egg Harbor, and because of the water damage to the structure, she lost everything she left behind.

Places Finch remembers from her childhood, like the 14th Street Pier, where she and her siblings used to go crabbing, have been reduced to broken timber that barely resembles its former shape.

Finch knew she wanted to help and she asked her brother what he and his neighbors needed most. She also asked the same question of the American Red Cross. Both her brother and the national organization gave the same answer, Finch said — money.

"They need money to help rebuild the infrastructure," said Finch. "...The need is huge. These are communities that will never, ever be the same."

So Finch decided to organize a raffle to help raise funds for the rebuilding effort, and all proceeds raised will go directly toward covering those costs. The money may be used for renting Dumpsters, Finch said, as the cleanup continues in many of those neighborhoods even now, more than two months later.

And, Finch noted, many of the homes in those areas are those of working-class families.

"These are not second homes," Finch said.

Those who enter the raffle have a shot at three prizes: Finch donated one of her own paintings, titled "Sisters," and woodcarver John Jewell donated an antique-style duck decoy. In addition, local yoga instructor Missy Hatch offered her services for three sessions. Tickets cost $10 each and can be bought directly from Finch — she can be reached at jerri@jerrifinch.com — or at the following downtown businesses:

• City Drawers;

• The Colonial Theatre;

• Colburn Shoe Store;

• Out of the Woods;

• Left Bank Books, and

• The Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce

The raffle will be held Saturday, Feb. 2.

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