Superstorm Sandy took his home, now New Jersey man is helping others recover
We are in the midst of marking the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy ravaging the east coast and here at the Jersey Shore and across New Jersey.
So many people, homeowners, businesses, and others lost so much in terms of homes, property, backyards, office space, and in some cases, much more.
Still today, many are still recovering emotionally, financially, and otherwise from the wreckage and aftermath of the destruction, Superstorm Sandy caused in October of 2012 due to red tape or something else.
It lingers as one of the biggest natural disasters to hit New Jersey and the Shore.
Mark Haug, an Ocean Gate resident and Councilman, and a teacher with the Central Regional School District, was one homeowner who lost his residence and for months, more than a year he and his wife and family bounced from home to home until finding something permanent -- they were one such family who lost everything and had to rebuild on multiple fronts in their lives.
Still, in the midst of all that happened ten years ago, Mark Haug felt so moved by a random act of kindness that he has since turned the emotion into paying it forward to help others now going through what he went and has gone through over the years by forming a non-profit called 'Hold On I'm Coming'.
On Sunday morning, Mark Haug joined us on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk, to discuss his journey and the non-profit now helping so many people in New Jersey and beyond.
"We actually lost our house, we had a little over 4 feet of water in our living room and we ended up having to demolish the house because it was an older house and we rebuilt it where we were, but, it was about a two-year process to put it all back together and get back in our house," Haug tells Townsquare Media. "It was really bad, especially after like a week of no power and all the mold started kicking in and stuff. We moved out, and we actually had really good friends that kept us the first three months but then they had a baby, and then, we moved to another friend's house and we stayed with them for a while, and then, we finally got a house right back in Ocean Gate right next to where we lived, it was a summer cottage that one of our friends had and they let us stay there for about a year-and-a-half until we got to rebuild our house again."
During the storm, Mark Haug and his family went through what many other families went through at that time, especially those right near the water.
"I sent my family away. I had my grandmother living with me at the time and she was 97 years old, so, I sent her to go live with her grandson and I sent my family to a friend's house and I was sticking around just to watch things and see what was happening," Haug said. "When the winds started picking up and the tide started coming in -- and my wife had told me all these power lines are going down, and she says "it's time to get out" and I left and approximately an hour after I left, the water started coming in."
Though they were able to eventually get back and build a home and start over again on that front, it still took time and emotion, and more to recover.
"I think everyone who was affected by Sandy is still affected by Sandy, I mean, there's still some stuff in there that will probably never leave us. It affected us financially, it affected us greatly, we were three years away from the end of our mortgage, now, I'm 28 years away from my mortgage -- it's a big difference," Haug said. "Emotionally, it's the place where -- your home is where you're safe, I mean, my children were born and raised in that home, and then it was gone, so, they lost their safe haven, that place where they could always rely on."
In the days, months, and years that followed Superstorm Sandy as well, Mark Haug spent time learning other people's stories.
"It took a long time for a lot of people, unfortunately, the wheels of government move slowly and a lot of it was government red tape and bank red tape. I heard horror stories coming from everybody," Haug said. "It beat a lot of people up for a long time dealing with red tape and just nonsense."
It eventually led to him running for office to try and help in their recovery and be a voice for the community.
He still had the desire to do something more, to help those currently in the shoes that he once wore with his family and his home trying to find some way, somehow to recover from a natural weather disaster like Superstorm Sandy.
So, after a lot of thought and consideration, Haug founded a non-profit, and it all traces back to a moment in time right after Sandy when someone reached out and was there for him in a great time of need.
"I was sitting in the yard, and I had been working on the house, trying to salvage what I could out of it for days, and, I was probably exhausted, but, I was just driving with adrenaline and stuff, and, I just took a break and I'm sitting in the yard and just looking -- and some guy comes up, taps me on the shoulder, I don't even know where he came from, and he's got a cup of coffee and he's like "how you doing?" and I look back and I see his truck, now he's got a mini-van, he's got a sticker on the side that said "Red Cross" and I'm like "I'm good" and he's like "do you need anything, do you need gloves, this...?" and I'm like "no, I'm good" -- I don't even drink coffee, but, for that moment, I was like somebody cares, it felt good -- and, after that, it stuck with me," Haug said. "Here it is ten years later and I'm this emotional over a cup of coffee."
This is what eventually led to Mark Haug creating the non-profit "Hold On I'm Coming" as his way of paying forward that sentiment, that feeling, that random act of kindness being there for someone and people in need.
"That's when I decided, you know what, someday if I get back on my feet, I'm going to do this, I'm going to help people," Haug said. "I sat down with my wife and I got this idea, and this was last March (2021) -- I want to help, and she goes, "I know, you've been wanting to do this for a long time", so, off we went and I started putting it together."
Now, he helps people and families not just in New Jersey but in other states as well following natural disasters including Kentucky and most recently in Florida following Hurricane Ian.
"I hear where there's trouble and I go to it," Haug said.
He drives to destinations with his trailer, gives out coffee, cold/hot drinks, food like hot dogs and soup, and then personal care and supply products like toothpaste, shampoo, combs, socks, gloves, soap, toothbrushes, wipes, paper towels, a place to charge their phones, first aid equipment, and more.
In addition to all that and more, he lends a listening ear.
"What I found is now almost the more important mission is to hear everyone's story, we have a lot of people who just want to vent, they just want to tell their story, what happened to them," Haug said. "They just want to be heard."
You can help Mark Haug out with the non-profit "Hold On I'm Coming" if and as your means allow by donating non-perishable and daily hygiene-type items or cash/gift cards.
"I think the best way (to reach out) is to call me, my number is 732-814-7247, that's honestly the best way because then we can discuss what I need," Haug said.
You can learn more about 'Hold On I'm Coming' in the full interview conversation with Mark Haug on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk, right here.