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Help for a helper: weathering Hurricane Sandy with the support of friends, family and strangers

Lance Mercado's son, Chad, on the ground at left, observes the tree removal process.

October 31, 2012

When she’s not providing care for the three rescued poodles who live with Jennifer Maurizzio and her husband, Joe, one can often track Jennifer down at the Narrowsburg Ecumenical Food Pantry where she helps others in her role as president. But following Hurricane Sandy’s visit to the region, the couple found themselves receiving help after a massive white pine tree nearly cleaved their home in half.

On October 29 as they sat in their living room with heavy winds gusting outside, a heavy thud alerted the couple to something being amiss. Within moments, they would learn that the tree had come within three feet of the living room in which they had been relaxing.

After spending the night with Jennifer’s sister, Linda Greaves, the couple returned the next morning to assess the damage. Lance Mercado, a member of the Narrowsburg Fire Department, and his son, Chad, were passing by and pulled over to offer their help. Lance climbed onto the roof with Joe and his brother-in-law, Harold Greaves, and got to work with his chainsaw.

Meanwhile, family friend Nadina Riggs of Milanville, PA helped to round up the couple’s dogs, who were destined for a temporary stay with Riggs until the crisis is resolved.

The couple moved to the home four years ago and had recently completed renovations, including installation of a new roof just two weeks ago. The tree sliced through the home’s central beam and drove a joist through the front wall where it protruded above the front door. A bathroom was crushed and a hole was left gaping in the wall, allowing a view of the backyard.

As Jennifer stood surveying the extensive damage, with rain dripping into the living room, she expressed repeatedly her gratitude that no one was harmed. The couple will temporarily stay with family members.