On Oct. 29, the brothers of Sigma Alpha Episilon (SAE) watched Hurricane Sandy make landfall in New Jersey on the news.
Michael Rile, a SAE member, talked to a brother who lived in Brick Township, which is located in Ocean County between Point Pleasant to the north and Seaside Height to the south. Rile convinced the KU brothers it was important to help out.
“We pride ourselves on being true gentleman, and being men who benefit the community we are a part of,” said Rile.
On Nov. 2, members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon left for Brick Township, New Jersey to help alleviate the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visited this coastal New Jersey town that day as well, according to Patch.com. Christie said some parts of the state coast were “unrecognizable.”
Six SAE members and one Zeta Tau Alpha member went to Brick altogether. They encountered a destroyed town.
“The town […] had a lot of debris around the area, power lines were down, trees were down, boats and cars were out in the middle of the road,” said Matt Garrido.
The following day they volunteered their time and energy to helping the community. According to Rile, they went to the fire department to find out where to help first. They were assigned to the most damaged area: where the ocean and bay flooded together.
“When we got there, it was extremely hard to get through the streets, due to the debris, mud, boats and cars that had been left from the flooding,” said Rile. “It was completely different in person, compared to the coverage that was on the news, it honestly looked like a warzone, and was surreal.”
According to Matthew Frizalone, the brothers gave out 500 cases of water that were donated by Budweiser.
After handing out water, they went to repair damaged houses. According to Frizalone, they helped take out furniture and carpets from an elderly couple’s home. The brothers also helped a local fireman by gutting his home: they removed floors, walls, and furniture.
“I felt terrible for this man and his family because he was someone who was affected just as bad, if not worse, than the rest of the community, yet he was out helping the other citizens of the town with their houses, even though his was not liveable,” said Rile.
Rile met various people who were very grateful for SAE’s service.
“[One] man we helped broke down to tears when he realized that a brother and I were from Pennsylvania and were people who had no ties to the Jersey Shore, but were just there because it was the right thing to do,” said Rile.
SAE members, especially those who live in New Jersey, were eager to help families in need.
“The families could not stop thanking us for helping out for two days, and most of them shed a few tears,” said Garrido. “This showed that they were extremely thankful for us being there and that made us feel extremely good.”
“I believe my biggest reaction was a sense of pride in helping others and my community,” said Frizalone. “I grew up on the beaches of the Jersey shore.
“I think it also showed that fraternities and sororities don’t live up to the stereotypes of movies and they do want to help the community,” added Frizalone.
For whatever reason each came to help, they all left gratified by the difference they made in that New Jersey town.
“The satisfaction that we got out of helping people who were left with nothing from the storm left me, along with my brothers, an amazing feeling that words could not describe,” said Rile.
By Emily Leayman