By Doug Shimell and David Chang NBC Philadelphia
While Hurricane Sandy brought out the worst of Mother Nature, it has also brought out the best of human nature. NBC10 spoke with one local couple affected by Sandy that is getting back on their feet thanks to help from both friends and strangers.
Angel and Julia Callano’s condo in Ortley Beach, Ocean County was gutted by Sandy’s storm surge. They also lost their jobs at Gabriella’s restaurant in Lavellette when it flooded.
“We went to a shelter and we slept in a stairwell for the night,” said Julia. “Everybody at the shelter was great to us but they had no heat.”
“We applied for FEMA the first day,” said Angel. “The reason why we got denied is because there is no access to Ortley. Ortley is being called ground zero right now.”
The couple was unable to find rental homes.
“We found one woman who wanted us to pay her for six months in advance, over $2,000 a month with a security,” said Julia. “She wanted us to wire money to her.”
That’s when Joanne Hatton, a regular at their restaurant, appeared. Hatton’s husband, Leonard, was an FBI agent killed during 9/11. Hatton tells NBC10 she found a contractor with a house for Angel and Julia as a way of paying forward the kindness she received after September 11.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Hatton. “You wish you could do more. But you take one at a time. And then they’re settled so they can help somebody else.”
“If it wasn’t for Joanne I’d still be in the shelter,” said Angel.
Perhaps the best part of the new home is that it gives the couple a clear view of their old home.
“You can replace materials,” said Hatton. “But you can’t replace each other. If you have each other you’ll do fine.”