The long journey for a Union Beach, N.J. family displaced by Hurricane Sandy has ended thanks to the generosity of debt collectors nationwide. 

The Rivera family moved back into their once uninhabitable home exactly one year to the date (October 29) that the “super storm” devastated the Eastern seaboard.

This Thanksgiving, as they sit around their kitchen table for the first time in 12 months, Nelson Rivera, his wife and three children will give thanks.

From mold mitigation, to replacing the heating system to rebuilding a bathroom and kitchen, most of the damage that forced them to live on a local military base for a year has been fixed.  Once the home is lifted off the ground about one foot to meet insurance requirements, the restoration work will finally be complete. 

“The Rivera’s feared the house in which they were raising their family was gone forever,” Elizabeth Mallory of the New Jersey Association of Collection Agencies and founder of Turning the Tide, a volunteer effort to help Hurricane Sandy victims. 

Hurricane Sandy caused more than $65 billion of damage in the United States, knocked out power to millions of people, caused more than 160 deaths and damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, including more than 340,000 homes in New Jersey.  

In coordination with Cavalry Chapel of Old Bridge N.J., earlier this spring Turning the Tide also helped an elderly and ill Union Beach couple, displaced from their home, to restore heat and a bathroom in their home. 

“This is an area of New Jersey that still needs lots of help to recover,” Mallory said. “Given limited resources, our approach is to help one family at a time.”

Turning the Tide was organized as a non-profit by Mallory and fellow debt collectors from the New Jersey Association of Collection Agencies, as well as throughout the country, to provide relief to Hurricane Sandy victims for whom federal, state or insurance funds are falling through the cracks. 

Mallory added, “Being from here and seeing the devastation firsthand it was imperative that we do what we can to help others. I’m proud of my peers nationwide for their selflessness.”

To make a tax-deductible donation to Turning the Tide, make your check payable to “Calvary Chapel Relief,” and mail it to: Turning the Tide, c/o Heritage Financial, 600 East Crescent Ave., Suite 304, Upper Saddle River, N.J., 07458.

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