After Superstorm Sandy swept through Ewing in late October, residents from the Glendale area and nearby neighborhoods ventured out to view the damage and swap stories with neighbors.
“How did you get through the storm, and how are you dealing with the power outage and the storm clean up?” they asked each other.
Based on their own experiences over the past few days, neighbors shared their personal strategies for dealing with stress during the storm and staying resilient in its aftermath.
Keeping things in perspective was especially important for Kathleen Trainor from Pennington Road.
“I thought I had it bad being without power until I saw the devastation that people along the shore experienced. I realized we were pretty lucky,” said Trainor, who was relieved that no one in her family had lost his home or car, or, the unthinkable, his life.
“I feel thankful that we were spared the worst,” said Anita Stauffer from the Glendale neighborhood.
“When I compared our situation with others, I realized we were not bad off,” said another Glendale resident Karl Clarke. “It really wasn’t a hardship. We had stocked up on food, water, batteries and flashlights. It felt like we were camping.”
“We ate dinner by candlelight and afterwards, sat around the fireplace,” said his neighbor Sarah Unger.
Staying informed was important for everyone, especially Clarke and his wife and daughter. During the several days they were without power, the Clarke family used social media as a form of communication.
“I used Twitter to keep informed about where PSE&G was working and the progress they were making,” Clarke said. “The rest of my family used Facebook to communicate with one another and friends.”
Several people said Mayor Bert Steinmann’s phone messages about trash collection and Halloween events were helpful. Almost everyone used television, radio, and newspapers to stay informed.
Reaching out to friends helped the Unger family and several others.
“After the storm, we walked around just checking on the neighborhood. There were so many other people out, it brought us together. It was comforting,” Unger said.
Several people who were able to keep power during the outage reached out to others. There were frequent posts on the neighborhood Facebook page from people opening their homes to one another.
A post from one family invited neighbors to come by and warm up, have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, take a hot shower, charge a cell phone or “whatever you need.” Another post invited neighbors over for lasagna and a glass of wine.
Doing something useful and helpful for others was important for Melissa and Bill Wyatt who joined efforts with a group of volunteers at One Simple Wish’s distribution center in Hamilton. They sorted and boxed donations for drop off sites, shelters, and private homes throughout the state.
Unger, who works as the communications and development director for The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, said their organization replenished food for two community pantries at the shore that lost their food in the storm.
“Helping people was productive and therapeutic,” Unger said.
The consensus among several volunteers is that you feel good when you help someone in need because your actions fulfill your need to feel useful.
Being mindful and appreciating the present was especially helpful for Unger and Wyatt.
“While at a guided meditation class at One Yoga in Ewing the Sunday evening before the storm hit, we shared the thought … that even though we didn’t know what the storm was going to bring, we could go into the week mindfully and prepared. The next morning, as I walked our dog Annie, I really looked at all of the trees, because I knew that some of them wouldn’t be there in the next day or two,” Unger said.
Wyatt talked about a mindfulness meditation she learned at the center in which you recall a situation when you were very happy and carefree. As you recall that time, you bring that feeling into the present moment.
“I know that I can tap into that space at any time because it is within me,” Wyatt said.