EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 14, 2012

Editorial: Cheers to those helping Sandy’s victims

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Cheers to people across the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire who are stepping up to help those still struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Among those are Paul Scovotti, 40, of Haverhill, who works for Verizon out of the company’s Methuen facility. Scovotti is one of 52 Verizon technicians, including eight from the Methuen garage, who have traveled to New York and New Jersey to help restore telephone, television and Internet service wiped out by the late October hurricane.

The Verizon workers are typically in areas where power already has been restored. But the scope of the devastation is still apparent.

“We are in the Coney Island area,” Scovotti told reporter Bill Kirk. “It’s one of the hardest hit areas. The water level was up 10 feet here. There’s debris on the street — people are trying to pull things out of their house that were ruined, and there’s stuff piled up on the street.”

Others are trying to help with more basic needs.

Utility crews from Massachusetts and New Hampshire are helping New Jersey utilities restore power to the thousands still in the dark. Public Service of New Hampshire sent 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 who were still without it as of late last week.

The PSNH crews joined crews from NSTAR, Western Mass Electric Company and Connecticut Light and Power. Utility mutual aid efforts have restored power to more than 1.5 million customers in impacted areas.

Emergency supplies and food stocks are running low. Bill Burke, owner of Dollar Bill’s Discount World in Derry, drove to New Jersey last weekend to deliver a truck full of supplies.

Burke, a native of New York, has friends and business connections in the New York-New Jersey area.

“I truck to New Jersey once a month, twice a month, I know how to get down there,” he said prior to his trip. “I said to a friend of mine, ‘Let’s get some stuff going on.’”

The flamboyant auctioneer and retailer collected a phenomenal quantity of emergency supplies in a short time.

“We collected 6,445 pounds of food and clothing,” Burke told reporter Julie Huss. “It was amazing.”

Neil DeLuca, also of Derry, has organized a relief effort with the help of friends and social networking. Businesses across the state, including the Market Basket supermarket chain, are helping with the relief effort through Operation New Hampshire Cares. Saturday, DeLuca and a small group of volunteers will head to New Jersey with a tractor-trailer packed with food, clothing and toiletries for Sandy victims.

“Food pantries down there are in dire straits,” DeLuca told reporter Doug Ireland. “They are running out of food. The food supply has just been depleted.”

Cub Scouts in Salem are helping as well, making blankets to send to the victims. Polartec of Lawrence donated the material for the blankets.

Unfortunately, the disaster has led to a breakdown in civil order and police in the New York-New Jersey area need help with law enforcement. New Hampshire sent a 12-member State Police team to New Jersey to help with recovery efforts. The Massachusetts State Police sent a detachment of 25 officers, including several from the Andover barracks, to New Jersey in response to a request from that state for help.

The united effort to help our neighbors hard hit by the superstorm is both welcome and encouraging. It’s comforting to know that Americans will lend a helping hand to those in need.

Well done to all involved.