Summit Middle School Provides Relief for Residents
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 • 6:44am
SUMMIT, NJ - In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many people throughout the tri-state are still without power, food, shelter and heat. The havoc this natural disaster caused touched many lives, but fortunately there are many people in New Jersey who are helping those in need. For the past week, the city of Summit has provided a safe haven for residents at several places including the middle school.
Summit, the Red Cross and the department of Community Programs started planning for the storm well in advance and had the school open Monday morning for guests. While it was labeled a shelter, it was actually a charging and warming station that provided beds and blankets for people.
There were numerous volunteers there aiding Summit residents over the past week and they each took time out of their days to help others. One of them was Beth Pincus, of the Red Cross. Pincus, who was there from day one, said while it was a sad situation, it was great to make so many people smile and feel good.
“We couldn’t put these people out on the street,” Pincus said. "It’s a volunteer community, so when something like this happens we become equal and we do it together.”
Many of the volunteers were people who spent a night or two there and then returned when their power came back on. There were over 1,000 guests each day and as many as1,800 at one point. There was wi-fi access for the internet and the gymnasium was open so children could play games.
“You did whatever needed to be done,” Pincus said.
On Monday at 4 p.m., they officially closed because schools reopened Tuesday, but the YMCA, SAGE Eldercare, the Connection, the library and the community center will all have charging and warming stations. Also, the YMCA will be a shelter and allow people to shower there.
Judy Joseph, who works for the Summit Department of Community Programs volunteered as well. Joseph praised the people throughout the community and said it was amazing to see so many residents helping each other.
“People were very happy that they didn’t have to travel very far to get shelter and warmth,” she said.
Robert Rubino wears many hats including father, councilman, doctor and Red Cross board member, but he still found the time to help. Rubino said when the storm first hit, he didn’t realize how bad it was, but once he got to the school he knew it “was all hands on deck.”
“When you have neighbors that need help you just pitch in,” he said.
One of the families displaced by Hurricane Sandy was the Stobers. Heather Stober, along with her husband and two children, stayed at the school all week and were grateful for their help. However, she said they might be getting power back Wednesday.
“The Red Cross was very helpful to us,” she said.