Local residents keep track of East Coast relatives during storm
by Maddy Houk
Nov 08, 2012 | 659 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patterson resident Peggy Cook is thankful for social media websites that keep her updated on family and friends, especially within the past week.

Cook and many other Patterson residents have friends and relatives on the East Coast in the path of Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc by sending floodwaters and high winds and felling trees and power lines across the Eastern seaboard.

“Thank God for Facebook, because I have connected with many people,” Cook said Tuesday, Oct. 30. “I’m concerned, and through Facebook, through my dad and my family, I’m getting word that everybody is good.”

Cook, who works at Kingdom Kidz at Family Christian Center, hails from Staten Island, N.Y. She moved to California in 1973 when she was a teenager and still has plenty of friends and relatives in the East.

“You know what? It is very scary to watch (the storm) on television,” Cook said. “At the same time, I like to personally talk with someone back there to get the real story — otherwise, it would drive me insane and make me sick.”

She said her best friend described Staten Island as similar to a “war zone,” and noted that as of Monday, Nov. 5, some of her other Staten Island friends were still without power and 14 people had died there.

“They’ve always kind of coined (Staten Island) as the forgotten borough, and it really seems to be,” she said.

Fuel continues to be a challenge, and Cook said her friend recounted how she got in line at a gas station with 75 cars in front of her only to be told that the station had run out of gas and a gas truck would not be there until next morning. Most people left their vehicles parked there and returned the next day, Cook said.

Cook spoke Monday, Oct. 29 with her father, who lives near Washington, D.C., with her stepmother. She was relieved to learn her father was prepared for the storm. Her brother lives a short distance from Cook’s father, allowing him to help out if needed.

“My dad had no flooding,” Cook said. “It was windy, and there was a bad storm where he was at, (but it was) not catastrophic.”

Her school friends from Staten Island were hit harder, she said. They had no electricity and were camping out on the living room floor and charging cellphones using their cars.

Another former New Yorker, Patterson resident and retired teacher Barbara Hartsell, a native of Farmingdale on Long Island, has been on the West Coast for more than 50 years. Hartsell said she has a cousin in Tampa, Fla., and another cousin who lives on Saint Simmons Island off the coast of Georgia. The cousins exchange Christmas cards with Hartsell, but she has not connected with them this week.

Hartsell is not a daytime television watcher, so she had not heard the latest news of the storm as of Tuesday afternoon. Still, she wondered about a friend who works in New York City.

“My girlfriend lives in Brooklyn and works at the Home Depot in Manhattan,” she said. “I’m sure she hasn’t been to work in a couple of days.”

Patterson resident Ramona Casado was concerned for her East Coast friends and relatives when she posted Tuesday, Oct. 30 on the Patterson Irrigator’s Facebook page.

“I have a cousin in West Virginia who is ‘hunkered down’ as I (write) this,” Casado posted. “She is taking care of four cats and some dogs that belong to family members and can only communicate through (texting) at this time. It’s raining hard also.”

As of Monday, Nov. 5, she still hasn’t heard from her.

Casado was also worried for a friend who lives in Meridian, Ct.

“She has a houseful of relatives staying with her, because she has a big generator and they don’t,” Casado wrote. “It’s raining very hard and very windy and is expecting some snow if this keeps up. Her neighbors have lost some trees, but so far she hasn’t and everyone is safe, thank God.”

Everyone was fine as of Monday, Nov. 5.

Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the Atlantic coast, devastating cites from Florida to New England. Winds of more than 70 mph and pounding rain knocked down trees and power lines, leaving millions of residences without electricity.

On Wednesday, Oct. 31, when this story was written, many cities along the Eastern seaboard were dealing with flooding, and although airports in the East were getting planes off the ground to fly again, La Guardia Airport in the New York-New Jersey area was still flooded. By Monday, Nov. 5 when the story was updated, airports in the New York and New Jersey area were up and running on schedule and roads were open. Gas rationing began over the weekend as people waited in long lines at gas stations to fill up their vehicles and to get gas to power generators.

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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