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Sandy: Residents Find Comfort at Littleton School

After damage to Lake Hiawatha School shelter, Littleton Elementary became the place to go for warmth and power.

A growing number of people are at Parsippany's Littleton Elementary School to get warm and charge their phones in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The school opened its doors at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after the original emergency shelter, Lake Hiawatha Elementary School, had to be closed due to serious roof damage caused by the storm. Officially, the operation here is not a shelter; Parsippany Police call it a warming/charging station. Its intent is to allow residents whose homes are without power to be in a place with lights, heat and places to charge their cell phones.

Truth be told, there are not many outlets here at present (you might want to bring a power strip), but those who stop by the school—the entrance is in the rear of the building—will find warmth, coffee and cocoa, food and conversation.

The center is staffed by Parsippany emergency workers. Dean Snook, chief of Par-Troy Emergency Medical Services, is among those present.

"It's been an interesting time," he told Patch. "Things got going at about 3 a.m., and we've been going nonstop since."

Sandy Nussbaum Giercyk of Rainbow Lakes came to the center for power.

"It's time to recharge the electronics," she said.

Giercyk said her teenage daughter is with her parents who live near St. Christopher Church, who do not have power. She added that she doesn't have power at her house either.

Giercyk brought two power strips along for her visit to Littleton, one for her five devices and a separate one for others in need.

"We're waiting for the devices to hit 100 percent," she said, saying she wanted to get back to her daughter.

Animals can find help here too.

Chris Dikovics, the town's animal control officer, said pets are welcome.

"Dogs and cats don't like power outages either," he said.

Dikovics added that while he's aware that damage is widespread throughout the area, things for Parsippany could be much worse.

"You think about people in Oklahoma," he said. "They come home after a twister to find nothing. [In comparison}, we're doing well." 

Board of Education member Sharif Shamsudin, fresh from a visit to damaged Lake Hiawatha School, made an appearance at Littleton School.

"As an elected official, I wanted to stop by and make sure everyone was OK, especially senior citizens," he said. "I'm off to Brookside Senior Center to see if any of them need a ride over here. The power just went off there."

About 30 cots are set up for people to rest, but most are charging phones, playing games on their phones, or enjoying the coffee, sandwiches and snacks made available to residents.

"We're glad to have people stay for a while to be comfortable," said Karen DeChristopher, a volunteer with the Citizens Emergency Response Team, which is part of the Parsippany Office of Emergency Management. "

There is no word on how long the warming/charging center will be open.

"Certainly overnight; I'll be here until tomorrow," DeChristopher said.

"I assume the center will be open as long as people need us."

Steven J October 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Most of the homes around Littleton have no power, so therefore they don't know this information.

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