HOBOKEN AND BAYONNE - A “train of hope” filled with donations (and several volunteers) and operated by Amtrak, will be leaving on a 30-hour journey on Friday, November 9 from Louisiana. The train will be arriving on Saturday, Nov 10 in Newark and will make its way to both Bayonne and Hoboken.
The effort has been coordinated by Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, Hoboken Councilman Tim Occhipinti, and various Hoboken city officials. Storage facilities are being organized in Bayonne for the donations.
Train of Hope 2012 was founded just last week by Donna O’Daniels, CEO of the Tourist and Convention Commission for St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana, and Kim Bergeron, Director of Cultural and Public Affairs for Slidell, La., in an effort to pay it forward.
“We literally came up with this idea last Thursday night around midnight,” said O’Daniels. “I don’t think I have slept since.”
The victims helping victims thought process will be mutually beneficial, helping ravaged towns in New Jersey after Sandy but also helping to heal those affected by Katrina.
“The town of Slidell didn’t face the same issues [during Katrina] as New Orleans where a lot of the levis broke,” O’Daniels explained. “We actually had a storm surge from the lake. The North Shore suffered extensive flooding.”
O’ Daniels assembled an “army of volunteers” and packing the train will commence today. “Amtrak has been so generous, not only donating the cargo space but they also offered us a sleeper car when we said we wanted to bring volunteers down,” O’Daniels said Thursday.
O’Daniels also offered perspective for those impacted by Sandy.
“You don’t look at the world the same way afterwards,” she said. “After the media fades away, you’re still left with the damage and you wonder when things will go back to normal. But there are little victories every day.”
Live updates will be posted on the Train of Hope Facebook and Twitter accounts. Follow https://www.facebook.com/TrainofHopeSandyRelief or on Twitter @trainofhope. Also visit trainofhope.net.