by Michaela Winberg and Dara Tucker
Hurricane Sandy washed over the shores of the east coast on Oct. 29, 2012. For over a week, WHS and many businesses closed their doors due to power outages and flooding. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the storm, members of the WHS community and Westfield as a whole are reflecting on the progress that has been made.
Senior Nicole DeRoux said that a tree fell on her house during Sandy.
“It was definitely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life,” said DeRoux. “There was this calm and you could clearly hear every root being pulled out of the ground. Then it was just the loudest sound, and the entire house shook.”
DeRoux added that her closet and backyard are still being repaired.
Sophomore Alison Jaruzelski said that the scariest part of having a tree fall on her house was not knowing the extent of the damage until the tree was removed.
“My dad is now obsessed with getting a generator,” she added. “We already have a space cleared in my basement. We’ll be much more prepared if something like this happens again.”
“I just hope everything gets resolved soon,” said DeRoux. “It’s been long enough.”
Mr. Tino Giunta, who has been a custodian in the district for 12 years, said that his home in Highlands was destroyed after the storm. All his furniture was ruined by the five and a half feet of water that flooded his first floor.
“After one and a half months, we moved back,” said Giunta. “We could only stay upstairs. My daughter [kept asking], ‘Daddy, when can we go back in the house?’”
Giunta said his house was restored after eight months. He added that he is happy to still have his job and family.
“We’re not worried about my house,” he said. “I was worried about my wife and my daughter.”
Some WHS community members helped others when they could. Chemistry Teacher Ms. Suzanne Glynn said she lost power for ten days but used a generator to keep her refrigerator and TV running.
“I took on the neighborhood’s food and would divide it out [to the neighbors] every night,” she added.
Businesses in downtown Westfield also sustained damage. According to Ms. Helen Rentoulis, owner of Vicki’s Diner on East Broad Street, the diner lost $25,000 worth of frozen food.She added that she had to borrow money to reopen and has been forced to “work for free.”
However, Rentoulis said a generator would not work in her business because the ceilings are low. She said that she hopes that next time, the state will be better prepared.
“I should hope that the power grid was fortified,” she said. “You know that the smallest things make our power go out in New Jersey.”
According to School Resource Officer Mr. Jeff Johnson, the Westfield police department took measures to be better prepared should another natural disaster happen. Traffic lights are now hooked up to special plugs to prevent malfunctions, and the police department has instituted a mobile command unit, helping police officers get to future emergencies more quickly.
“We are still trying to get back on our feet,” said Rentoulis. “Emotionally, we are trying to recover.”