CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)–Many of us know someone who lives up north: a family member or friend still without power and limited food.
Monday night on CBS-6 we introduced you to a former NYPD and now Chesterfield County officer who just returned from what’s left of his hometown and a Richmond woman who believes we can all do more.
“My family is up there. I have an obligation. My mom, her brother, my cousin,” said Chesterfield Police Officer John Rocklein. “I had to go.”
Rocklein packed his pick-up with gas cans and supplies last week and took some personal leave.
These images he saw were not the “welcome home” he had in mind. “It’s very sad to see,” he said. “I got very emotional. It’s hard, you know. I don’t know how long it’s going to take them to bounce back.”
Entire neighborhoods are still underwater and the mounds of trash continue to build. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” Rocklein said. “I’ve never seen such utter destruction.”
Natalie Ferguson says a work trip turned into a humanitarian effort like she’s never seen before. Her heart got heavy, seeing a 70-year-old man she only knew as John push his life to the curb, ready for pick up whenever the trash trucks make a run.
“We were working the marathon,” Ferguson said. “I work for Power Bar. ‘John’ was a realist, never denying he lost everything, but he had a smile on his face and remained hopeful.”
And hope is something that could easily be lost in the charred Breezy Point community, a coastal neighborhood on Jamaica Bay where almost 100 buildings caught fire there and burned to the ground.
It was Rocklein’s old beat when he was with NYPD, close to where he grew up. He says not only did Sandy destroy the lives and landscape here, he now says he thinks delirium is setting in.
“Chain up the generators, gas is under lock and key,” he said. “Cars are being stolen. It’s starting to be a desperate situation.”
Rocklein saying gas is like liquid gold up north. So if you drive up, he suggests you prepare for that.
Both he and Ferguson say donating money is fine, but say people in the devastated areas need essential items such as food, water and blankets right now.