In the Wake of Hurricane Sandy, Communities Come Together

Neighbors offered to volunteer, businesses offered donations and organizations with power opened up their doors.

Disasters either bring out the worst in people or the best. From the very first drops of rain in Stonington to days into clean-up mode, there were offers to volunteer, offers of donations and organizations opening up their doors to let people charge up.

On Tuesday afternoon with 95 percent of Stonington's Connecticut Light and Power customers in the dark Semolina Pasta Shop in the Olde Mistick Village posted this message on their Facebook page:

Friends, Extra Virgin and Semolina will be reopening on Wednesday morning at 10 am. If you're in need of anything: food, water, bread, blankets, batteries, flashlights, whatever...please e-mail me offline at: sjc@extravirginoilstore.com and I will have a 'waiting for power kit' available for you and your family members at the store for your pickup tomorrow during the day. In short, whatever you need, just shout. We all need to bond together and this is just our little way of helping out. Otherwise, we'll see everyone at Olde Mistick Village tomorrow for the annual trick-or-treating event for the little kids! Take care all, Stephen

That’s a pretty incredible offer, especially from a fairly new-to-town shop owner.

Stephen Clemente opened Extra Virgin in January and Semolina shortly after. He downplayed his offer, saying it was just a small token of his appreciation for the community.

“It's really not a big deal at all, it's simply one member of the community helping another member,” Clemente said.

But for the people waiting for him to open the shop as he handed out supplies, the people charging up their tech items, and for the one man who spent most of the morning having a conference call in the store, it surely wasn’t just a small thing.

In West Hartford, Whole Foods sent a message to Patch Editor Ronnie Newtown offering pallets of water to any towns in Connecticut in need.

“We were thinking of loading up trucks and heading down but want to go somewhere where it is needed,” Marketing Director Kristin Arsian wrote. Newton and Waterford Patch editor Paul Petrone made arrangements for the water to be delivered to Waterford.

People and businesses like Clemente and Whole Foods weren’t just offering goods, they were offering their time. Clemente had volunteered to spend time gathering things people needed, and the Whole Foods employees were ready to spend their day handing out supplies. They weren’t alone.

As the flood waters threatened to cut off Stonington Borough on Monday night a couple of Pawcatuck residents were asking how they could help. And on Tuesday volunteers gathered at Bank Square Books to help them transport books out of the store and into an upstairs empty apartment so the carpets could be cleaned.

The Mystic & Noank Library regained power Tuesday afternoon and quickly told people to come over saying they had wi-fi and plenty of places of charge up. And with Halloween in danger with officials worried about kids walking around in the dark, the Mystic Aquarium offered a free trick-or-treat event.

Those are a few of the many offers I’ve heard. There are the neighbors who have said 'how can I help?', the emergency personnel who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and the strangers who offered up their outlets at Starbucks.

Cathy Cook November 05, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Announcing Hurricane Relief Food Drive when you vote tomorrow. Bring nonperishable food items to the polls when you come to vote. Volunteers from the Madonna for Senate campaign will be collecting donations for the local food banks.
Barbara Kleeman November 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Kleeman Chiropractic 31 Water Street, Mystic, was flooded but is now dry and open. It will take a few days to get all the furniture, etc. in place but we are grateful to have found Richard and crew to dry and clean carpets and get us up and running this fast. If you need help with clean-up, call and we will give you his phone number. Our number is 572-9355


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