MANTUA TWP., N.J. - Sunday night’s storm left significant damage in parts of the area. From Mercer County to Camden County and from Montco and Delco, there were reports of trees and wires down.
In Gloucester County, months of hard work at a Mantua Township VFW were gone in just a few minutes due to strong winds from the storm.
It’s common to see fallen trees, downed power lines and damaged homes after large storms, but one structure that collapsed was so much more than just an unfinished pavilion.
"What you’re looking at is what’s left of the Frank Conklin Memorial Pavilion that was under construction. We had everything done, but the roof," explained Michael Kerr, Commander of the Mantua Township VFW.
As the cleanup began Monday across the region, the VFW in Mantua felt the impact of losing more than $50,000 raised and 5,000 hours of volunteer time to build a pavilion in honor of one of their fallen brothers.
"That stomach drop like you’ve been punched because this whole thing has been done by volunteers. There’s people who are members of the post, members or our auxiliary and people who just came and wanted to help," Commander Kerr lamented.
Emotion was clear as military veterans on National Vietnam Veterans Day, used to overcoming all sorts of adversity, were standing and looking at their years of work wiped away in minutes.
"You can see how much has been done by people that are just giving us their time, their donations," Commander Kerr added.
The wind ripped screws from the foundation, split boards and collapsed the structure. And like far too many trying to rebuild after storms, those with years of serving others now need help.
"We’d love to have any help that we could get financially, or if there’s a contractor out there that has an idea, we’d love to hear it," Commanded Kerr commented.
They estimate it will cost at least an additional $20,000 to complete and, sadly, insurance coverage had not yet begun.
"We were at the finish line with this and that’s what hurts the most," Commander Kerr stated.
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