OCEAN CITY- Perhaps presenting an opportunity to “pay it forward,” a prominent area disaster relief and restoration company is already helping residents of a small Pennsylvania community ravaged by Hurricane Irene in late August and has set up an account for monetary donations and a drop-off location for much needed supplies to allow local residents and visitors to contribute to the cause.
Hurricane Irene blew through the resort area in late August causing minimal destruction, save for some downed trees and some power outages. However, several communities up and down the east coast were not as fortunate, including many far from the storm’s direct impact. One such area is the small community of Plainsville, Pa., where floodwaters peaked at eight or nine feet, leaving a wake of destruction when they subsided.
Royal Plus, Inc., a local disaster relief and restoration company, was working recently on a large commercial project in Plainsville when company staffers realized the extent of the devastation nearby. Royal Plus founder and president Matt Odachowski said this week company staffers traveled back and forth through some of the neighborhoods each day before realizing the residents were still living in their ruined homes.
“We thought these places and been vacated until I saw the kids,” he said. “When I realized that they were still living in their homes, which were full of mud and mold with no electricity or running water, I knew we had to do something to help.”
On one day, Odachowski and the Royal Plus crew saw residents attempting to move a refrigerator and stopped to lend a hand with their heavy equipment.
“When we looked around, we could see what used to be a living room with four or five lawn chairs in a circle around a single lamp and single heater hooked up to a generator,” he said. “That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks that people were still living in these homes.”
The Royal Plus crew loaded equipment and supplies in a truck and started distributing it to the residents of the community still living in storm-ravaged homes. They also went to a nearby department store and bought food, clothing and supplies for the residents. Other Disaster Kleen-up (DKI) companies, including Damage Control of Pa. and Benefect, Inc., for example, also joined the cause.
Had the storm not blown through Ocean City and Worcester County, local residents could still be dealing with the same devastation, according to Odachowski.
“The scary thing is, this could have easily been areas in our community if the storm did not somehow skirt by us like it did,” he said. “It looked like we were in the bulls eye, but somehow we got off easy and these poor folks bore the brunt of it.”
To that end, the local company has set up an account called “Royal Plus Fund for Disaster Victims” at the Bank of Ocean City for those who wish to make a monetary donation, and a drop-off site at company headquarters in Snow Hill for supplies. Food, clothing and other goods, especially used, but working appliances such as microwaves and refrigerators are desperately needed.
“This is a way to pay it forward, because one day this could happen to us and we would hope other people would come to our aid,” said Odachowski.