The lights are back on in Southern New Hampshire and now residents are reaching out to help those truly devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Bill Burke, owner of Dollar Bill’s Discount World in Derry, is heading to New Jersey tomorrow to deliver a truckload of donated goods.
”I truck to New Jersey once a month, twice a month. I know how to get down there,” he said. “I said to a friend of mine, ‘Let’s get some stuff going on.’”
Burke is accepting all donations until 9 tonight. The business is located at 133 Rockingham Road (Route 28) in Derry.
”This is still so new,” Burke said. “There’s no food down there. The food pantries are empty.”
Windham fire Lt. Jay Moltenbrey just returned from New York City as part of a search-and-rescue task force with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
”We were seeing boats in roadways, cars inside houses, very similar to some of the images that came back from Katrina,” Moltenbrey said. “There were city blocks where there was nothing left anymore.”
Power is still out in many parts of the region.
”Ppeople who lost everything are starting from scratch,” Moltenbrey said.
Some are having difficulty doing that, according to Burke.
”Say you’re in New Jersey, and your house is blown off the market. You have no home to go to,” he said. “You’re in the shelter, wearing the same clothes you wore the other day.”
When Burke leaves tomorrow morning, he’s hoping to have enough pallets of donated items to bring two trucks with him. There isn’t anything he will turn away.
”They don’t just need food,” he said. “They need pillows. They need gloves. They need sweatshirts. They need the basic things we have every day.”
Students, too, are doing their part. West Running Brook and Gilbert H. Hood Middle Schools in Derry put out a call to the community.
The response was swift and substantional. They have a truck full of donations to send south. Yesterday, Hood’s National Junior Honor Society members helped load clothing, food and other personal items on a truck in front of the school. The truck then headed over to West Running Brook to pick up its share of donations.
Hood assistant principal Susan Gualtieri said having so much support in such a short time was amazing.
”It hasn’t even been 24 hours,” she said.
In addition to those deliveries, Gov. John Lynch is sending a 12-member team from the N.H. State Police to help with recovery efforts.
”Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on parts of New Jersey, and the recovery efforts there are ongoing,” Lynch said. “New Hampshire is pleased to be able to answer the request for assistance.”
Public Service of New Hampshire is sending a convoy of 15 line crews, along with support staff and supervisors. The crews will be helping Jersey Power and Light restore power to the estimated 150,000 customers still without it yesterday afternoon.
The PSNH crews will join crews from NSTAR, Western Mass Electric Company and Connecticut Light and Power. Utility mutual aid efforts have so far restored power to around 1.5 million customers in impacted areas.
Helping New Jersey and New York residents who are stilling recovering is a call that must be answered, Burke said.
”We help so many people around the world with so much other stuff. This is in our back yard,” he said. “We can make a difference. We can be a part of the help when they can’t.”
Staff writer Julie Huss contributed to this story.