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Warming Station Brings Comfort to Cold Residents

Residents from Powder Mill to Intervale are finding conversation, comfort, and means to charge their phones at town comfort station.

Parsippany schools are closed for the rest of the week, but one is open to provide a safe place for residents in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Littleton Elementary School on Brooklawn Drive is not a shelter, per se. Town officials call it a after Lake Hiawatha School, the original shelter, suffered serious roof damage during the tropical storm. 

On Tuesday, the site was filled with cots; they are now gone. Tables are in place for residents to sit and enjoy games and conversation. Hot coffee and snacks are available for visitors, and there are outlets throughout the school's corridors so people can charge their cell phones, laptop computers.

Another change: Yesterday, pets were allowed at the center. Today, Human Services Director Barbara Ievoli said only service animals are permitted.

Humans are certainly welcome, though.

Wendy Uricoli, who lives in the Intervale section of town, said she is grateful for the warm space.

"It's been great," she said. "We've been able to charge everything and get a little warm coffee and prapre for the cold night ahead."

Told that forecasters predict temperatures will drop quite a bit tonight—the anticpated low for Wednesday night is in the 30s—Uricoli reacted positively.

"At least we'l have a warm place to go."

Vijay Thiruvallur, visiting Littleton with his family, said he is thankful for the generosity of the volunteers and told Patch he has done his part to pay the kindness forward.

"I was reading Parsippany Patch and heard about the N.J. volunteer program and wanted to help," he said. "So I called the number and when I finally got through they told me about a breach of the dam in Moonachie."

Thiruvallur said he collected towels and blankets and took them to the Terterboro Airport, but it was flooded out and they wouldn't allow him in. Ultimately, he dropped off the items at a Bergen County high school being used to shelter displaced residents.

"I don't know if it was useful," he said. "I hope it was useful."

There's no doubt that the work being done by Parsippany's volunteers at Littleton School are useful. Staffers there come from the ranks of town emergency workers, including volunteer members of the Office of Emergency Management's Citizens Emergency Response Team, who performed the same service last year at the Lake Hiawatha School shelter during Irene.

Working at the center is a long day for the do-gooders, who said it opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. One staffer mentions that an overnight shelter will be available at Parsippany High School.

In the meantime, Parsippany residents are charging their phones, chatting with neighbors, playing games and surfing the Internet (when it works.) A group of teens amused themselves with a pickup game of basketball using the school's outdoor hoop. Younger kids tossed around a football in the playground.

"It is good that this is here," said Thiruvallur, who was at Littleton with his wife and two children. "We're lucky to have a place to stay warm and be together."

Vijay Thiruvallur October 31, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I am pleasantly surprised to learn that I am newsworthy. I have to admit that i had help from my Parsipanny neighbors Arul, Ranjith, and Indar with the volunteering effort besides donations from other neighbors. Vijay
Natalie Davis (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 08:06 AM
You know, Vijay, when we spoke I was impressed with you. Multiply that by 10. Thank you for acknowledging the generosity of your friends before the Patch community. I hope the town is as inspired as I am by the impulse of all of you to take a bad situation and make it better by thinking of others and reaching out in kindness.
Deepa November 06, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Great job Vijay and family!!! Nice to have friends like you:)

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