HOPATCONG BOROUGH, NJ - The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has left hundreds of people without electricity, and water; and many schools and businesses remain closed. In this time of need, the American Red Cross has been there to provide for these victims and their families.
Over 500 people a day from Hopatcong, and its neighboring towns, have come to Hopatcong High School, where the American Red Cross Organization has set up a certified relief shelter for victims and their families. The shelter has served up to 2,000 meals daily, to those who may stay overnight, or, simply stop in to warm up, have a meal, and then return to their homes.
Hurricane Sandy hit Sussex County with so much force that it has been added to the list for FEMA assistance.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have been served in the cafeteria portion of the school by Red Cross volunteers and others daily.
They serve these items to hundreds of people who are mostly dressed in nothing but pajamas, however, new packaged clothing of all sizes occasionally comes along from generous donations.
One by one, victims make their way through a line as they grab food and drinks. It is items such as stew, pudding, Gatorade, apples, Capri Sun juice, bread and chips, that make all the difference to these people, who unexpectedly could not provide for themselves.
A retired fireman started a generous organization called “Firehouse Subs”, which was sent to Trinity Church in Hackettstown, N.J., then sent to the shelter. The subs came in boxes, and were turkey, ham, pastrami or roast beef.
At the end of the line, young children stand next to guardians handing out plastic utensils for all to use with their meals.
The hot food served is provided by the Red Cross.
Along with food, the shelter provides warmth, charging for electronics minus laptops, crisis counseling, a day care, and two rooms dedicated to the victims pets (allowed to be brought in, as long as crated).
In addition, there are hot showers, cots set up for people to sleep with blankets, heat provided, and water.
“There has been so much in the way of food and clothing contribution,” said Sherry White, Red Cross volunteer. “It has been awesome.”
Sue Hill, a Language Arts Teacher and also President of Hopatcong Education, has been a volunteer at the shelter.
“One of the teachers posts daily on Facebook what is needed for the shelter,” said Hill. “Social networking is helping out quite a bit. They also had a truck come up from Delaware two days ago loaded with supplies, the teachers and volunteers helped remove it all.”
One gentleman arrived with a couple of egg rolls from a Chinese restaurant, and a young girl was heard saying, “I don’t care if anyone makes fun of me, I am so happy that I get to eat this. It has been weeks since I have been able to eat anything like this.”
A crisis such as Hurricane Sandy has made most reflect on what they take for granted every single day, and residents' abilities to provide food for themselves, and their families, has truly been an obstacle in this situation.
“It’s hard to buy ice or have anything in your freezer because it melts,” said one Hopatcong resident. “I constantly think about work but I can’t, it is hard right now. I just can’t go. I am so emotional right now that the tiniest thing makes me cry. I lost my electricity and water but not my home, I made it out better than most but it is still so sad.”
Several people have gone to the shelter to drop off bags upon bags of donations for the victims at the Hopatcong High School doorway.
The shelter is currently looking for the following: D Batteries, pillows, new baby clothes of all sizes, new sweat pants and sweatshirts of all sizes, and new blankets; and is continually needing milk and pet supplies.
Anyone can drop off these items at the Hopatcong High School, or contact Sue Hill at email@example.com.
For more information on the American Red Cross visit the official website at the redcross.org, and for The American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey, click here.
Editor's Note: Another shelter in Sussex County still remains open at the Sussex County Technical School.
The Alternative Press will provide continuing coverage on Sussex County's recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Click here to follow The Alternative Press of Sussex County on Facebook for news, and information.