San Diegans head to New Jersey to rebuild homes destroyed, damaged in Superstorm Sandy

A group of volunteers from International Relief Teams is scheduled to leave from San Diego this morning for New Jersey to help rebuild destroyed and damaged homes from Superstorm Sandy.

Even though the storm hit more than three years ago, families are still displaced, and often their only hope to return home is through volunteer and nonprofit groups like San Diego-based IRT, who provide construction expertise at no cost.

The 15-member IRT team of construction volunteers will focus on communities along the Jersey Shore. They include skilled craftsmen from San Diego and around the United States who will work closely with partner organization, A Future With Hope.

"IRT is working to repair homes severely damaged by the 2012 storm," IRT Executive Director Barry La Forgia said in a statement.

"Many houses, mostly belonging to the working poor and the elderly, are still unlivable and residents remain displaced," he said. "IRT is honored to continue our partnership with A Future With Hope to help families in need finally return home after over three years."

The trip will be led by Chris Read, a long-time IRT volunteer and board member. The crew includes John Zawis, of La Mesa; Paul Trimble, of Poway; Matt Hallett, of San Marcos; Dale Teschler, of El Cajon; Ned Vander Pol, of Vista; Trudi Koren, of Jamul; Tim Lenehan, of Escondido; and Ken McIntyre, of San Diego. They will meet up with other volunteers from Florida, Virginia, Rhode Island, South Dakota and North Carolina.

IRT has been working in the hardest-hit areas of New Jersey for more than three years, rebuilding after the most destructive storm in New Jersey history.

The storm affected 250,000 homes, displaced more than 161,000 people and was blamed for more than 200 deaths.

Damage was estimated at more than $50 billion.

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