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Sandy shatters the Jersey Shore, but doesn’t shake spirits

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Photo Credit: Colin Lenton

On Sunday, Oct. 28, just hours before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Northeastern coastline of the United States, Paul Chiolo, associate with the Jersey Shore market center, was getting ready to run 26.2 miles in the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. What he didn’t realize was that in a matter of hours he would be running another race: a sprint against the clock to get back and salvage what was left of his Ocean City, N.J. home.

“My sons and I had driven down to D.C. to run. We had raised $5,000 in the process of training for pancreatic and brain cancer research, so we were really excited for the day to finally be there.” They ran the race – Chiolo even shaving an hour off his best time – when they started hearing more about the storm which had been swirling out in the Atlantic Ocean. “By the time we were ready to drive home, the island was under a mandatory evacuation,” he said. “There was just no way we could get back.” Forced to stay put, Chiolo then describes what was a safe but frustrating wait until the storm had passed. “We kept getting pictures and video of the storm from friends. I was literally sick thinking about what was happening to our home.”

Unfortunately for Chiolo and his family, nothing was spared. “We lost so much. There was four feet of water in the lower level of our home – which is a living space. The car and motorcycle were ruined by the water rushing in from the high tide. Our entire pier with our boat and jet skis were destroyed as well.” Chiolo is quick to point out that they are lucky to have lost only material possessions, but he can’t hide the disappointment. “You know, that pier didn’t go up overnight. We saved money, built a little piece of it. Then we’d save some more and build another piece. It took years to finish, and in a matter of hours everything was gone.”

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Of course, Chiolo is overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of support he’s received from the Greater Pennsylvania Region and his fellow Keller Williams associates. “So many have reached out to us and so many have come by to help us. We were overwhelmed with the phone calls from as far as the West Coast. Friends and members of our Keller Williams family offered food, water, labor and on-the-ground help. We are so thankful for the staff at the Keller Williams International Support Center, KW Cares, as well as the Greater Pennsylvania regional leadership. Everyone has been outstanding in their support for every single agent. Our Team Leader Kelley Tanzola has been outstanding in communicating with all our associates and funneling information to the region and KWRI office in Austin, Texas. I’m proud to be part of this group and will always be grateful for its support.”

Up until Sunday, Nov. 5, Chiolo and a team of workers from all over the region were at his home with dumpsters, cranes and trucks, clearing out the wreckage and helping him to piece his home back together. Today is his first day back in the office. “Yesterday someone asked me how the marathon went, and I had to think for a minute, ‘Wow, was that just last week?’ It seems like a lifetime ago.”

Help support those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Send a check payable to KW Cares, and in the memo line specify “Hurricane Sandy.” Or, if you prefer to donate via credit card, please click here and complete the accompanying form. In the box labeled “This Donation Is For,” please indicate “Hurricane Sandy.”

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