Nov 162012

The CERT command at the Orange Emergency Shelter.

It was a collective effort of small contributions which enabled the Town of Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to serve a few hundred people.  Such generosity reflects a caring spirit often missed during a caustic election year.

The High Plains Community Center was opened to provide shelter from super-storm Sandy.  Volunteers attended to many clients, especially the elderly, providing overnight accommodations, heat, hot water and showers.  Many folks used the electricity to charge cell phones and computers; others only wanted morning coffee.  Deeper, some required more intimate care so as to attend to soiled diapers, navigating doorways with walkers or issues related to oxygen, medicine, language and hearing.

There was food; three meals a day served to about 70 people for nearly a week.  Supplies started to dwindle but calls for help resulted in deliveries of apples, yogurt, bagels and water.  People of faith stepped-up; coordinating their efforts with CERT and the Town’s EOC (emergency operations center), bringing food and volunteers.

A wholehearted thank you is extended to the nurses, janitors, police, fire-fighters, highway department and many more.  It would be wonderful to mention each person and community group by name because they deserve recognition.  The list of people who helped is long, many worked hard, volunteering even though they lacked electricity, heat and running water at their homes.  In any case I personally witnessed their selflessness and extend a sincere thank you.

Reverend Ann Ritonia, Church of the Good Shepard, please extend my heartfelt gratitude to your congregation as they demonstrated how to serve the community in a time of need.  Additionally, thanks to Reno’s Pizzeria; Julia’s Bakery; Orange Congregational Church; Congregation Or Shalom; Orange Little League; Themis Klarides; American Red Cross; Robert Lettick; the great effort by Maria Biondi, Orange Visiting Nurses Association; and Jennifer Hutchinson, a nurse who volunteered her time.  There are many more and you are not forgotten; thank you too.

To my fellow CERT members, thank you and your family members (e.g., Joe Han’s wife Kim put in a lot of hours of kitchen prep, cleaning and recycling).  CERT can continue to prepare, help others prepare and do even better next time.  Once again we realize how well-off we really are by giving ourselves.

Finally, there are many stories to be told about the storm and its aftermath.  One genuine simple contribution in a time of need to a larger community effort had big results.  Donated paper plates were available to serve the many.  Thank you AF.


Charles Waskiewicz

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