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Phils, affiliates help recovery efforts after Sandy

PHILADELPHIA -- FirstEnergy Park, home of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, sits about eight miles west of the Jersey Shore.

Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed much in its path late last month, spared the ballpark, other than a few downed signs and billboards.

"When I pulled up to the ballpark and saw six light towers, which is what we have, and the scoreboard, I figured we can handle everything else," BlueClaws general manager Geoff Brown said this week. "The damage here was minor."

It wasn't elsewhere. Millions lost power, and many lost their homes. As a result, FirstEnergy's parking lot became a staging area after the storm. Until recently, utility and tree-trimming trucks jammed the lot. An enormous tent had been assembled for shower, bathroom and dining facilities for workers trying to restore power to the area. The trucks are gone, but the park refilled Monday as 167 people from five different organizations, including the Phillies, Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Double-A Reading and Class A Lakewood and Trenton, scattered to 15 different locations in the area to help folks in need.

The Phillies sent more than 80 people to Lakewood, including Phillies president David Montgomery and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Aramark provided box lunches for everybody involved.

Many ripped up floors and gutted flooded homes. In at least one case, the help came as a surprise, with one homeowner telling Phillies employees they saved him days of work.

Others worked with various charities.

Everybody got their hands dirty.

"We were all over," Brown said. "We just put teams together and said, 'Go get 'em.' It was great. The amount of people that called and e-mailed us within the first few days after the storm was fantastic. It kind of went from there. Everybody was all about it."

It has been a slow but steady road back to recovery. Some BlueClaws employees had been living in the luxury suites at FirstEnergy Park until recently because they could no longer live in their homes. Almost everybody else had been without power for seven-to-10 days following the storm.

"The help we got [Monday] just blew me away," Brown said. "The BlueClaws front office basically has been going out since a couple days after the storm. We called all the places where we've done stuff, and sent people there. It was fantastic."

People interested in helping are encouraged to donate to American Red Cross.

Philadelphia Phillies