Superstorm Sandy swamped the Port Monmouth Firehouse with as much as 41" of water, ruining the fireman's gear. But as soon as the water receded, volunteers were organizing community relief efforts out the same building.
For a month afterwards, anyone could stop in for a hot meal or donated goods. Once that operation cleared out, members were left with a good feeling -- but the sad state furniture-stripped rooms and a pressing need to rebuild company assets.
In recent days, the fire company has started getting help from the community to accomplish those goals.
On Sunday, there was a celebration when the new firefighters lounge, made possible by a $2,500 donation from SURF - Shores United Relief Foundation, was unveiled. "It's boosted the morale back in the firehouse," said Buddy Skelly, president of the firehouse, as well as the Township Fire Marshal. "They decorated the whole room and refurnished. It's a hundred percent better," he said.
The lounge, where the firefighters spend most of their time between calls, is also an area for training, meetings, and to eat. The donation paid for old pictures salvaged from the attic to be reframed and mounted, a new media center & tables, stools to go under the countertop purchased by the firemen themselves, two new couches, and a carpet.
A "Middletown Strong" $12 t-shirt sale is going strong, with more than 500 sold by Jan. 30, said Skelly. The proceeds of the sale are intended to pay the insurance deductibles to replace the firefighters turnout gear contaminated by the flooding Raritan Bay and Pew's Creek. Many more need to be sold. The shirts can be purchased between 5-7 p.m. weekdays.