Serving the Vulnerable of Hurricane Sandy
Lola and Joseph Kowall, back home after Hurricane Sandy
81-year-old Joseph Kowall and his 73-year-old wife Lola have been through a lot in 50 years of marriage. The couple live in the same modest, split-level home they purchased nearly 40 years ago in the bayside community of Port Monmouth. The two share the home with their daughter Kimberly and their disabled grandson Daniel who suffers from a rare medical condition that requires him to be home-schooled in a temperature controlled environment. Though space is tight, the living arrangement worked well for this close-knit family, until Hurricane Sandy crashed ashore last October.
“It came in like a wave,” Joseph said, “The water just crashed through the front door and filled the first floor of the house, right up to the landing. We never had a drop of water before, and now this!”
The Kowall's first floor, still in ruins.
The Kowalls remained in their house throughout the storm, doing their best to keep everyone safe as the water rose and the power went out. Eventually, the water receded. But then Kimberly noticed that her mother was acting strangely. She and Joseph rushed Lola to the hospital where doctors determined she needed emergency brain surgery. For the next several days, the two sat vigil at Lola’s bedside hoping for the best while their home lay in ruins. It was a nightmare.
“Taking care of my family was all that I cared about,” Kimberly said. “I couldn’t even think about the house.”
left of the Kowall's downstairs bathroom
Volunteers from area church groups came to their aide, mucking out the destroyed first story of the house and hauling water-logged furniture to the curb. The Kowalls were grateful, but the family was so preoccupied with Lola’s health problems, they were not able to document the damage and to compound their troubles, there was a delay in obtaining much-needed FEMA assistance. Already struggling financially before the storm, it didn’t take long for the family, now living together in the second story of the home, to become overwhelmed.
Fortunately, the Kowall’s plight caught the attention of a Family & Children’s Service (FCS) social worker who intervened on their behalf. With help from a grant from the Robin Hood Foundation Sandy Relief Fund, FCS was able to purchase new appliances, furniture and educational equipment to help the family get back on its feet.
“Our luck is starting to turn today!” Joseph exclaimed tearfully when our social worker brought them the good news. “It’s finally starting to turn.”
Kimberly, with the family's new appliances
Daniel and Kimberly Kowall, on the road to rebuilding
The Kowall’s story is just one of the many that demonstrate the important role FCS plays in meeting the needs of the most needy among us.
Our 104-year-old organization’s longevity is a testament to our ability to respond to the changing needs of society, and as in the case of Sandy, an unexpected emergency. We are deeply grateful for your past generosity to FCS and your continued support remains essential to fulfilling the agency’s mission—to assist people at vulnerable times in their lives through education, intervention, care and counseling.
We ask you to please consider a gift to FCS at this time—
a gift that will directly benefit those for whom we care, now and throughout the year!
Family & Children’s Service is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. Federal Tax ID # 21-0650674
Contributions can also be mailed to our offices at:
Family & Children's Service
191 Bath Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740