While searching for families displaced from their homes by Hurricane Sandy, we made our rounds to hotels in Point Pleasant and found a business with a heartbeat. This business is the Mariner's Cove Motel located on Broadway in Point Pleasant Beach, and the resounding heartbeat originates from it's manager Raj Patel. Since 2002, Mr. Patel and his family have lived year around in a portion of the motel located directly behind the front desk. Like all dwellings in the area, the Mariner's Cove took on some major flooding due to Sandy. The whole first floor of the motel, including their living space, was under five feet of water.
With no electricity, his business in ruins, and his personal belongings out at the curb, Mr. Patel opened his second story rooms to any homeless soul the police dropped off. The area was without power for 20 days, but he was able to give them candles, blankets, and a roof over their heads at a time when they were in dire need. He shares, "I had to help them. They had no money, nowhere to go, and it was such a critical situation for them." By November 17th, he began to get some FEMA funding for the rooms, and it helps him pay his bills. Now, five months after the Hurricane came ashore, the heart of this business is still beating stronger than ever. When FEMA denies his clients further funding, he lets them stay free of charge until they can find a place to go. An older man living off a meager Social Security check stays at the motel for sweeping the parking lot a few times a week.
When faced with the suggestion that he is a hero, Mr. Patel humbly explains, "My father owns this family business, and I have insurance. I will eventually be back on my feet, but these people are finding it hard to stand right now financial-wise and health-wise. Most of them have lost their homes and their jobs due to the hurricane, and they're still not able to live properly." When asked if he experienced anything positive through this disaster, he shared, "I realized how much I love being in this country. I was raised in India and I still visit from time to time, but seeing how everyone has been bringing all the food and supplies to the people stranded here has made me really appreciate this country."
Mr. Patel is making progress in getting his motel back up and running fully before the Summer season begins. He was given a $500 VISA gift card towards his expenses from the New Jersey District as recognition for being such a blessing in the lives of others.