Sitting in a room at Pierre’s Restaurant filled with culturally diverse people of all ages and genders enjoying a fabulous breakfast, the feeling of community was palpable.
As I watched neighbors and friends hugging each other, greeting those they didn’t know with a friendly smile and a tap on the shoulder, reinforced why I believe South Brunswick is the place to continue to live in, retire to and to age in place.
I have been committed to that vision for more than 20 years when I bought my home in Kendall Park recognizing how easily it could accommodate shared housing with mother/daughter potential. Today I can speak to how I have personally benefitted.
As Sandy’s forces hit the area I barely escaped a huge tree coming through to my bed. The howling winds had sounded like trains barreling down an alley all day long, but we had power until early evening. Without power it made sense to go to bed. Fortunately it missed me, but my living space is another matter. It doesn’t exist.
South Brunswick Police were there in minutes urging evacuation of the entire home, as more trees were poised or had come down close to the house. They provided directions enabling us to avoid the many streets with trees and lines down in order to access Route 1 to search for a temporary place to sleep. They were patient and supportive as our family debated and argued about staying or leaving the house.
Eventually all but one did leave and we began the search for some place that was open. No highway traffic lights added another dimension to navigating a major highway. Finally, a motel with lobby lights was found. They would have rooms, but no lights other than the lobby. One elevator was operating, (critical to me as a handicapped person). There would be no food available. Rather frightening to be on the fifth floor with no communication tools.
By morning I recognized there was something wrong medically (I had just returned home from a hospital stay on Thursday). I called 911 and once again the township came to the rescue literally, with the Kendall Park First Aid Squad searching two floors looking for my room. Somehow the hotel did not know where to find me.
In the meantime my family, like so many, was faced with their non-working land lines, cell phones running out of power, insurance company message lines full and unimaginable frustration levels.
Enter our Township Councilman Charlie Carley and a lot of luck. My daughter Sherry was running errands for a number of people and stopped to watch a TV weather station promising a nor’easter for this coming Wednesday. Suddenly she saw Charlie. Without hesitation he had a potential solution. He arrived at the house with a contractor and both men (being engineers), recognized the very real hazards the downed trees on our roof represented and arranged for next day assistance.
I was released from the hospital in time for the power to be turned on at a nearby Residence Inn, where I am able to stay until my home is made whole again…..probably a great deal sooner because of Charlie Carley’s incredible help.
If I had been able to make my way to the microphone today, I would have shared this story with the community and my neighbors who had come together this Sunday, because each and every one would know that my story could be their story and where they always know South Brunswick is a community that cares.
KUDOS to the Emergency Management Team, Police Department, the Volunteer Nurse Corps, the First Aid Squad and to all our Township officials. My family and I thank you all.
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