Lakewood, NJ – At first, Tent City resident Monique Guion thought she would ride out Hurricane Sandy at the homeless camp in the township woods. That was until a fellow camper advised her to get out.
She did, getting herself to a shelter. The move might have saved her life, said Guion, 29.
Before the superstorm reached its peak, Guion moved to a shelter at All Saints Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue in the township.
“I was lying in my bed and did not want to leave but people were telling me to,” Guion, an eight-month resident of the camp, said Friday. “I decided to finally leave and I’m thankful I did.”
During the storm, a beam fell from her tent on to her bed, Guion said.
“It’s like I had a guardian angel,” she said. “If I would have stayed, there is a good chance that I would not be here today.”
Approximately 40 residents of the community in the woods off Cedar Bridge Avenue stayed at the camp during the storm, the remaining members went to shelters or moved in with family members, said Steve Brigham, founder of the camp.
“The most important thing is that no one got hurt,” he said. “We did have one tree fall on a tent, but that couple had decided to leave.”
Several structures where damaged during the storm, Brigham said. The camp has approximately 80 residents in total.
“There were a bunch of tents that were destroyed but we have ones to replace them,” Brigham said. “Overall, we are not doing that bad.”
Greg Maples, 62, and a seven-month resident of the camp, decided to stay during the storm.
“I’ve been through a lot and thought that it would be easy to stay through it,” Maples said. “Every couple of minutes you would here a tree fall, they were coming down all over. If I had to do it again, I would just wait it out. At the end, you just thank God you are alive.”
Despite being homeless, Maples said he feels for people who had their lives changed by the storm.
“There are people who lost their homes and everything they owned, I feel for them,” he said. “I was lucky, I only had a little damage to my place and that can be fixed.”
Source: ASBURY PARK PRESS