Residents Come Together as Sandy Leaves Scotch Plains and Fanwood Without Power
Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents search for warmth and a good charge at the memorial library, residents share stories of fallen trees throughout the towns.
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The Fanwood Memorial Library saw over 5,000 people during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The library was open for Fanwoodians, and residents of nearby towns, to warm up and get a charged device.
According to PSE&G, Scotch Plains, Fanwood and Westfield saw significant damage from Sandy due to the amount of trees within wires, as well as the extremely damaged circuits which leave some residents still without power.
PSE&G originally gave a timeline of Nov. 5 for power restoration, however some residents were still without power on Nov. 9.
One of the main substations for Fanwood, which also serves Scotch Plains, suffered severe damage over in Sewaren.
Sue and Paul Vastola, have lived in Fanwood for 28 years and Sue said she has never seen anything like this.
A tree narrowly escaped the homes of The Vastola's and their neighbors. The couple was lucky enough that the large tree fell right between the two homes and only brushed their gutters and siding.
LaGrande Avenue resident, Evenlyn Nieves a Professor at NYU in Rockland County told Patch, she escaped death.
Nieves said the evening was scary, she had a feeling about the large Oak Tree in her yard. When she awoke the tree was uprooted, landing on her neighbor's truck and taking out her fence.
"In 14 years, I've never experienced anything like this," she said.
She also said her neighbors were so nice and grateful, they didn't even care about the truck, she told Patch, they were just happy everyone was safe and the homes were not damaged.
Nieves set out to some of the open businesses in Clark and said she was a "happy camper" when she was able to get a bottle of water from one of the stores. She added that she ran into CVS on Park Avenue in Scotch Plains and the associates were very kind by offering her outlets in the store to charge her phone if she needed.
Nancy Levine of Crest Lane, said she is just amazed at how resourceful people are and how nice people are to each other.
Over in Scotch Plains, resident Tony Kilmas moved to town from Florida in 2009.
After living in Florida since 1987, Kilmas has seen plenty of storms, the aftermath of Sandy was some of the worst he has seen.
He said the storm itself was not the worst he has seen but what followed was up there due to the population of the tri-state area and the lack or preparation and slowness of response, he said.
Kilmas realized the focus placed on getting things back to normal in Florida as opposed to Scotch Plains.
One example of a poor response Kilmas noticed in Scotch Plains, was when he was stuck in traffic on U.S. 22.
"I saw plenty of police around," he said. "In Florida those police would bedirecting traffic instead of allowing the massive traffic jam that occurredon 22 since no one could come back the other way. Just crazy."
Kilmas was also disappointed with the amount of tree cleanup he did not see on Wednesday night, as well as poor communication from utility companies.
However, on the bright side, Kilmas wanted to call on his neighbors in town and how everyone pulled together in a time of need.
"It's been an interesting few days," he said. "We thought we were done with Hurricanes when we left Florida but I guess we got that wrong."
William Rivera of Sycamore Avenue in Scotch Plains, also called on his neighbors during this "dark time." He told Patch that his neighbors came over and brought steaks, chicken and fish, which they grilled in his backyard while they threw a small block party.
At the Fanwood Memorial Library, other residents told stories of block parties and residents getting together to cook food following the storm.
"Our country will help NJ get back up," he said. "Today I saw a caravan of about 20 power trucks from Michigan and Ohio driving on route 78. They are coming to our rescue."
Amy Bazarnik Boroff of Fanwood tweeted about getting together at one of the owners of Flannery's to eat burgers.
She also reached out to several other neighbors via Twitter, since other forms of communication were down, making sure they were in good shape following Sandy's hit.
The amount of positivity at the Fanwood Memorial Library was obvious, most residents were calm and enjoying using their devices or checking on work and email. Most residents were just happy to have a little warmth outside of their powerless homes.
Many of them were just thankful that they were only without power and still had their safety and homes.
Shu Chao of Fanwood, looked at the events of Sandy differently than most residents we spoke to.
Chao said the events make her pull back and think of a simple life, she noted everyone is always running and often people do not take the time to enjoy life and appreciate it.
She called on the book, "The Zen Commandments," and a line from the book where they talk about a simpler life.
"It's easier to keep things simple, rather than make them simple," the book quotes.
Chao pointed out how reliant kids these days are on television, the internet and their cell phones. She called on the young group of boys, like many at the library did, and their efforts to help people.
She also mentioned a block party in Fanwood that she had walked by, residents that she barely knew invited her over to enjoy a hot dog.
Matt and Kevin Fleck and Josh Axelrod were some of the volunteers at the library on Thursday morning.
Matt, a 7th grader from Fanwood, was assisting people as they came in and bringing them to open charging stations, as were the other boys.
Many of the adults at the library thanked the boys tirelessly for their help.
The boys were there each day assisting other residents who are all without power in the wake of Sandy.
Union County Freeholder and Fanwood resident, Al Mirabella, called in to News 12 NJ on Thursday afternoon.
Mirabella encouraged Union County residents to call the Office of Emergency Management in Westfield at 908-654-9881 if they are interested in donating or volunteering.
Those who want to assist could go to the Ralph Froehlich Building and they will take down your information.
Mirabella said, "we've got to get back, move forward and rebuild."
For more information on Hurricane Sandy in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, check this article, which links to all coverage of Sandy.
To see some of the damage in Scotch Plains-Fanwood, or to add photos, visit our gallery.