Rev. Karyn Ratcliffe saw what was happening with flood victims throughout Wayne this week and knew something more had to be done to help them.
Ratcliffe, who is the pastor of Packanack Community Church, met with Assemblyman Scott Rumana and other people in town on Saturday formed the Wayne Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
VOADs exist on the national, state, county and local level. They are non-governmental organizations that coordinator volunteer efforts between various community organizations during times of crisis.
Ratcliffe said the severity of the flooding due to Hurricane Irene prompted her to respond by talking to residents who wanted to help more.
“In past years when Wayne has experienced flooding, it is the same routine, people expect it. It’s the same homes, the township responds, the residents recover and they get on with their lives,” Ratcliffe said. “What I experienced this time, due to the geographic extent of the flood, is that this event is beyond our community’s ability to recover from it. We don’t have the ability to clean up everything in a timely manner.”
People who have never been flooded during a storm were flooded during what a lot of people are calling a flood worse than the one that occurred in 1984. The amount of water people who normally do flood was greater than in previous incidents. More people lost more possessions and have to deal with a more extensive clean-up process.
Ratcliffe said VOAD has already been on the front lines of the recovery efforts. They have helped people on Ryerson Avenue, one of the hardest hit areas in town, clean out their houses, some with 3 or 4 inches of water still in them.
Ratcliffe has already used VOAD to coordinate volunteer and clean up efforts throughout the town.
The Wayne Civic Center has been established as a staging area for the collection and distribution of supplies. More than 200 clean up kits were distributed to people in need. The Strawberry Blossom on Route 23 transported the kits to Ryerson Avenue residents.
VOAD needs people to donate school supplies for students, especially those attending Ryerson Elementary School. The following supplies are needed: composition notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, 24-count boxes of crayons, thin and thick markers, pencil sharpeners, colored pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, scissors, large book socks, rulers, sticky notes, and backpacks.
Cleaning supplies, including buckets, face masks, sponges, mopes, brooms, and garbage bags are needed. Sports drinks, juice boxes and bottled water are also needed. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are also needed.
The following non-perishable food items are also needed: water bottles, cereal, pasta, coffee, tea, tuna, cooking oil, peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, soup, school snacks and drinks, flavored rice packages and canned beans and vegetables.
Laundry detergent and shampoo are also needed.
VOAD is arranging for meals to be provided from tomorrow until Sept. 11 at Fire Company 2. Cleaning supplies and non-perishable food will also be available there. Volunteers are needed to staff the building, organize the donations, distribute meals and supplies and deliver supplies to neighborhoods.
Items can be dropped off at the Wayne Civic Center between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. or at Fire Company 2.
Gift cards can be dropped off at either the municipal building or at Packanack Community Church between 9:30 a.m. until noon beginning Tuesday. Town hall and the church office will be closed Monday for Labor Day.
Individuals who would like to make a financial donation should make a check payable to The Wayne Interfaith Netowrk, an interfaith organization that operates a food pantry at Radcliff’s church. Checks should be mailed to: WIN, care of The Packanack Community Church, 120 Lake Drive East.
The Wayne YMCA is also allowing residents who do not have hot water available to use their showers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday and between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday.