Her children were initially hesitant to step out of the car and their comfort zone Testani said, but that quickly changed. “They were very quiet in the beginning and it was shocking to see,” she said. But as people began to thank the family for the food and kind thoughts, Benjamin and Rebecca came out of their shells. “You could see that suddenly they wanted to help,” Testani reflected.
The family has helped with local hurricane fundraisers and considered donating to a food pantry or shelter, but experiencing the devastation first hand was something Testani felt was necessary she said. Many of the Long Beach residents had access to warm food centers only a few blocks away, but they didn’t want to stop working on their homes and loss daylight. The Testani’s trip allowed residents to keep working and grab a bite to eat.
The experience is one Testani is certain her family will never forget. One resident brought Benjamin into his home to show him the water lines and how high the storm surge had reached — it was up to the 12-year-old’s forehead. That moment solidified the value of witnessing the aftermath firsthand. “There’s no way that you can really appreciate it until you’re down there,” Testani said.