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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy


First things first: I’m fine. My family is fine. Our house, the one I share with my sister, fine. We got power back after five days; the worst damage we suffered was a ripped porch screen and a neighbor’s fence in our yard and a lot of branches to pick up in the yard. The house where my sister used to live? Had a huge tree crash into its second story.

We are lucky, lucky, lucky. Even knowing that, I’m going to give a mini whine: being without power in October/November stinks. It is not fun. It is not a great opportunity to play board games. It is not a time to read books. It is a time of watching your food go bad. It’s a time of figuring out how to heat your house. One of the best tips: keeping a boiling pot of water, carefully watched, on the stove, using the lid to control the steam escape. See what I did there, though, that indicates a level of privilege we had during the power outage? Yes: we had water. We have a gas stove, so we could use the burners to make hot food. And yes, our hot water heater is the type that kept making hot water. So, lucky, lucky, lucky.

Board games and book? Well, with the way the external light was, there was limited daylight time. Even then, though, so lucky, because with a house with windows on all four sides we did pretty good with having daylight. I can imagine, some homes — apartments, condos — didn’t have that much daylight they could make use of. So that was the best time to cook or clean, inside or outside. That was the time, because it was light out, to go out to try to track down food or water or ice or gas or to just get out to see what was happening, and there were no lights or streetlights or traffic lights, and wires and trees were in the roads, so, again, it had to be done during the daylight.

Candles and flashlights — well, we used candles despite the recommendation against candles because of fire risks. And we had flashlights and battery powered candles and some book-lights, battery powered, but the light from that is hardly the best. We had a ton of batteries but even then, you want to be careful, right? And not run out. Plus, when it’s that dark outside, and inside, with just those lights, it “feels” late sooner. Eight at night felt like midnight.

And as for keeping in touch with the world — yes, the iPhone and iPad and laptop and Nook were all charged. And my external battery for my iPhone. AT&T was terrible and inconsistent until Friday morning, so it was next to impossible to find out what was going on with other people, with family and friends, and who was safe. Because my iPad has 3G I could use that to email and access the Internet so that was a tremendous help, except for the battery issues. I, like many, ended up sitting in my car charging devices. Which was also a way to have a quick blast of heat and to listen to the radio. Even then, look at the luck: an iPad with 3G. A car with an almost full tank of gas. A way to charge the devices. This created something really weird: limited access to news, so having very little idea of what was going on.

I was scheduled to go to the YALSA YA Lit Symposium; my Thursday flight from Newark was cancelled and rescheduled to Sunday night. I was somehow able to make a call to the airlines that lasted long enough to reschedule to Friday. How to get to the airport was a bit tricky — because of gas, because of public transportation being down, but I made it and got to the airport early to enjoy hot food, heat, and a place to charge devices. And the first thing I did when I got to St. Louis was take a hot shower, because while I had hot water, it was stepping out into a cold house with a wet head of hair so to be able to dry my hair? Wonderful.

I was even luckier because while I was gone, the power came back.

The power is back for me, but Sandy is hardly over. There are the simple parts of trees being down and the destruction they caused, and the power still out for so many, and the loss of houses and the houses that have to be fixed. There are possessions lost. There are jobs lost, and people out of work. As I said, I’m lucky, but many in New Jersey and New York are not.

Here is just a start on some resources for both information and for helping. I’ll be honest: this list is Jersey centric. I live at the Jersey Shore, I grew up on the Jersey Shore — the shore of Ocean and Monmouth counties. I’m looking at photos of places I’ve lived, worked, visited, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s places where family and friends live. There’s still places that people haven’t been able to go back to, so there are still question marks about what damage has been done.

Have other links? Including for New York? Please leave them.

The Community Foodbank of New Jersey

YA for NJ, organized by Kieran Scott

American Red Cross

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

The Asbury Park Press is the local paper; great coverage, photos, and videos including how to help

The radio station New Jersey 101.5 also has good coverage and resources

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties

And information about New Jersey libraries, including status and resources etc.:

New Jersey State Library

New Jersey Library Association

and please note the New Jersey Association of School Librarians Fall Conference in Long Branch, NJ is still on; registration ends November 16. One way to support libraries, librarians, and local businesses is to still attend events like this.


The photos are mine from the day after the storm. They are the Atlantic Ocean; a local road; and the house where my sister used to live.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Carol Hampton Rasco says

    Thank you, Liz, for continuing to share Sandy with us as it reminds us regularly the storm is not over, all is not well and we need to continue our efforts to help as guided by those of you who are in the area, those organizations serving the people truly in need. Thanks again.

  2. Strong group of volunteers in Jersey City: Thanks for spreading the word!

  3. Liz, Thank you for letting us know that you and your family are fine and that your power is back. It’s great to hear that. It must be such a relief to have your power back on. Don’t forget to restock your hurricane kit! I’ve been checking my earthquake kit and found I needed to replace some items.

    I’ll be checking the library links to see what I can do to help.

  4. Carol, thank you.

    Leah, thanks for the information and link.

    Eliza, and I’ll be adding to that hurricane kit! Thanks!

  5. I also live on the shore, in Monmouth County. We are fine, but I know so many people who aren’t.

    My former principal’s students lost everything to #sandy. The school is fine,but many students are homeless so the school is collecting monetary/gift card donations to distribute to families. They would be grateful for anything! HIGHLANDS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 360 NAVESINK AVENUE, HIGHLANDS, NJ 07732. Attn: Principal Bill Ciullo