Turning tears to joy for Sandy survivors

Alex Quiles, (left) age 6, receives a teddy bear from Navy Chaplain Don Biadog Jr., as volunteers complete their work on the Quiles’ home. The dwelling was severely damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy. Biadog, a North American Mission Board endorsed chaplain, worked with a team of volunteers at the home. Photo courtesy Don Biadog Jr.

By NAMB Staff

FREEPORT, N.Y. – Seeing your home virtually washed away is difficult on the heart. For the Quiles, owners of a small home in Freeport, N.Y., Hurricane Sandy crippled their home and their hearts.

The family was forced to leave when the storm hit in October, not knowing when they would return. Seeing Sandy’s massive destruction was discouraging. But the Quiles didn’t stop praying and hoping that they would eventually be reunited with their home.

On a Saturday morning in early January, God answered their cry for help. Their tears switched from sadness to joy when military and civilian volunteers arrived to help. They came from all over the country, mobilized by a faith-based relief network, including Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

The host family, a U.S. Navy volunteer team from Naval Base Kitsap, U.S. Navy retirees from Rhode Island, Filipino-Americans of Newport County and members of the Brooklyn Evangelical Church went to work on a cold Saturday morning. They removed molded materials destroyed by floodwaters and applied anti-mold liquid.

Though much work remained, the family was thankful to receive initial assistance—and to know others cared for them. By the end, Angela, mother of three, and the rest of the Quiles were amazed by the progress. Alex Quiles, 6, received a teddy bear after volunteers completed their work.

One member of the team, Navy Chaplain Don Biadog Jr., was rendering aid in New York for the first time since the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Biadog leads chaplains in diverse and challenging settings, including teams counseling families after the loss of a loved one in combat.

“Of course 9/11 was a tragic, mind-boggling man-made disaster,” said Biadog, a North American Mission Board endorsed chaplain. “This time we were helping the victims of a natural disaster, Super Storm Sandy. I led a team of volunteers at the Quiles’ home and oversaw operations of several command centers in New Jersey and New York over a two-week period overlapping New Year’s Day.”

Biadog was joined by volunteers from Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New England, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. All of them shared his desire to help those in need.

“What we did was about being the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Biadog. “A lot of people might have asked, ‘Where is God?’ after the storm. I feel that we were showing God’s love by going to those in need.”

Biadog said the work was not easy task. Much effort is still being focused on mud out, but also helping survivors return to a sense of normal life.

“Volunteers helped tearing down sheetrock or drywall of flood-damaged houses in Staten Island and Long Island,” said Biadog. “They removed and cleared debris; cut down trees; and provided food. I was able to pray with many of those affected. It was great to be able pray with them.”


Published March 28, 2013