OCHS grad rocks out to help victims of Sandy

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Alexander / Andrew Baird, second from left, who played in his first band as an Ocean City High School sophomore, played a benefit concert Nov. 10 in California to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Photo courtesy of Dennis Alexander / Andrew Baird, second from left, who played in his first band as an Ocean City High School sophomore, played a benefit concert Nov. 10 in California to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.

TAHOE, Calif. — Andrew Baird is living pretty high these days.

In his estimation, about 6,000 feet above sea level.

“One of the hardest things about living out here is explaining to people about elevation,” said Baird, a Beesleys Point native who moved to Tahoe, Calif. in 2007.

Lately, the 1999 Ocean City High School graduate has had plenty of opportunities to explain elevation 0 – sea level – since the Jersey Shore was blasted by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29. Baird has spent the last two weeks explaining the geography of Cape May County to acquaintances and the last week helping to organize a benefit concert that was held Saturday, Nov. 10, in Truckee, Calif. The event raised about $1,300 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

In the week after Sandy struck, Baird’s friend Dennis Alexander, a deejay and bartender, had masterminded a clothing collection drive that garnered 600 pounds of winter wear, which was shipped to St. Peter’s United Methodist Church.

“Dennis is the kind of person when anyone needs help, he’s the first person to rally and ask, ‘What can we do?’” said Baird, a marketing manager of a ski resort by day and a drummer in a band by night.

“He was doing the clothing drive, and Rak (Dettelback) and I were talking about it,” Baird said of Dettelback, his One Track Mind bandmate. “When you see somebody doing so much for your community, you want to know what you can do.”

Dettelback, the band’s guitarist, was the one to come up with the idea of a benefit concert, Baird said. The event, which featured about 20 different musicians in a five-hour, rocking-out marathon, raised funds by raffling prizes donated by area merchants.

Baird played in his first band as a high school sophomore with Ed Shiffler, whose father’s Merion Park home sustained flood damage from Sandy. He said he kept updated on the storm’s progress through national network news, as well as Facebook posts and phone calls to family. Baird’s mother teaches at Oakcrest High School, his brother teaches at Egg Harbor Township High School, and his father recently retired from teaching in Egg Harbor Township.

“It was crazy to watch from 3,000 miles away, to be watching my hometown get battered by the storm,” said Baird, whose personal interest in the storm was heightened by his eight summers working at Oves on the boardwalk in Ocean City.

“It was all over the news out here, Superstorm Sandy is going to hit the East Coast,” he said. “Then it was, ‘Oh, it’s going to hit the Jersey Shore hard.’”

Baird predicted Sandy’s impact on the coast and on people will be lasting.

“This is the storm people will be talking about for years and years to come,” he said. “This was and always will be home for me.”


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