HOBOKEN, N.J. (BP) -- Two weeks after superstorm Sandy tore through New Jersey, thousands of people still lack food, clothing and water. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, nearly half of Hoboken's population of 50,000 was trapped in their homes by floodwaters.
It's in this setting that the members of Hoboken Grace Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, have been ministering tirelessly since the morning after the storm hit.
"We began by moving crews of volunteers to pump out basements," the church's pastor, Chris High, told Baptist Press. "As the water began to subside, we transitioned our teams to move from apartment to apartment assisting our neighbors and local charity organizations in cleaning out their destroyed apartments, offices and buildings."
Hoboken is a 2-square-mile city across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and it is home to many middle- and upper-class people under the age of 35, according to The Star-Ledger in Newark. As many as 90 percent of the residents were without power after the storm, and National Guard trucks were brought in to rescue people who could not escape their flooded homes.
The city's sidewalks have been completely covered with trash, High said. Garbage trucks in the city typically collect 62 tons of trash per day, The Star-Ledger said, but since the hurricane that number has increased to 309 tons as people lost many of their possessions to the floodwaters.
Hoboken Grace assisted a local food pantry that had been flooded. Members helped salvage what they could and then helped establish a new location from which the pantry could operate, High said.
"We also began collecting supplies ourselves and delivering them to the local housing authority," the pastor said.
In the immediate aftermath, Hoboken Grace set up three grill stations in local housing projects to provide warm meals for people who were without electricity.
"Throughout all of this it has been phenomenal to watch people give and to watch those with power and heat take in those without," High said. "This not only provided for those in need but also enabled us to come out day after day ready to assist those around us in any way possible."
Hoboken Grace lost its offices to the flood, and High and his wife were out of their apartment while post-flooding repairs were being made.
"We've got a long road ahead," he said, "... but we're seeing what the body of Christ looks like in action." Read More