When Joseph Badame and his wife Phyliss returned to the United States after two years in the Peace Corps, they watched the violent riots in their home state of New Jersey and decided that if they were going to stay, they needed to prepare for the worst. The couple started building a massive 8,500 home-and-bunker complex in Medford Township, NJ and spent the better part of four decades filling it with all of the food, survival supplies, and equipment they would need to house 100 of their friends and relatives in the ultimate worst case scenario.
A decade ago, Phyliss suffered a debilitating stroke and, for eight years, Badame put every dollar that he had to her medical care. When she died, he had nothing left; he was soon evicted, and the bank foreclosed on the property he and Phyliss built together. The now 74-year-old Badame thought there was nothing he could do but watch helplessly as his life was dismantled, piece-by-piece, and sold to buyers during an estate sale at the end of September.
He was wrong.
Victoria Martinez-Barber and her husband, Anthony Barber, were hired to provide food for the estate sale, and they set up Tony & Tori's Grill, their food truck, near Badame's house. Then, Hurricane Maria completely devastated the home—and the lives—of Victoria's family in Puerto Rico, so she decided to send all of the truck's profits that day to her overwhelmed relatives.
When she told Badame about her family, he immediately gave $100 to the cause. But then, he decided to make a bigger, completely life-changing donation. He and Phyliss were beyond prepared for what they believed would be a complete economic collapse, and they'd planned on being self-sufficient for an extended period of time. That meant that they had filled their bunker with 80 barrels of food, each one weighing 360 pounds. There was flour, rice, and sugar, pancake mix, dried beans, and other foods with long, shelf lives. Each barrel contains enough food for 84 people (!!!) to eat for four straight months.
So Badame told Martinez-Barber that he wanted to send all of it—all 28,800 pounds of it—to Puerto Rico. "I've lost everything. My wife, my house, everything," he told NJ.com. "The last thing I was going to lose is the food. It was going to be trashed."
According to the Washington Post, last Wednesday, 40 of those barrels were packed up and put on a Delta flight to Puerto Rico. The other 40 will be sent by ship. "Phyliss and I prepared all this for one group of people and it turns out it's going to help another group of people," Badame said. "That's wonderful."
His new friends are pretty wonderful, too. Badame now lives in a small RV, which is parked at the Martinez-Barbers' home, indefinitely.