Owners of small businesses, we know for a fact, rarely head off for work thinking that their day will unfold exactly as planned. And most emergency medical technicians, we suspect, never assume any emergency call to be routine.
But neither Cesar Ortiz, the owner of Lawrence Landscapes, nor Michael Kenwood, an EMT with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, could have envisioned the fatal turns their final days would take in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
Ortiz died as he was attempting to drain a pool of water that had collected on property he owned in Lawrence Township. Kenwood was swept away by racing waters on Rosedale Road in Princeton Township, as he was attempting to approach a stranded (and as it turned out empty) car.
Their deaths were tragic reminders that — media hype and over-zealous weather announcers notwithstanding — the threats of the natural world are as real and possibly dangerous as those posed by any terrorist. A week after Irene, and now that everyone we know seems to have their power back on, herewith a brief report on some of the after-effects and relief efforts.
First a statement from Lawrence Landscapes: “While each of us is saddened by Cesar’s sudden departure we are determined to continue on and to keep the Lawrence Landscapes legacy of providing exceptional services for you, our valued customers and friends.
“We appreciate the outpouring of love and concern from so many of you and trust that you understand if we can not return calls to everyone on a timely basis. Your sentiments are very much appreciated and are truly comforting as we reflect on Cesar’s strong work ethic and concern for everyone whom he treated as if they were his own family.”
While no other business in our area suffered as great a loss, many others continue to deal with lasting effects. Eno Terra restaurant, located just beyond the D&R Canal in Kingston, expects to be closed for about a week as the owners grapple with the effects of water that flooded its basement and damaged equipment and supplies. The Association for the Advancement of Mental Health on Alexander Road near the Princeton Junction train station suffered severe flooding. Its headquarters were expected to be closed for several weeks.
Supporters of the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale, believed to be the longest running and largest book sale on the East Coast, reported some good news — and some bad.
The good news was that the book barn on Vandeventer Street suffered no damage from Irene. The bad news is that the firm that stores the boxes of books they can’t keep at the barn was totally flooded. About 375 boxes of books (approximately 14,000 books) have been lost. The total represents one-fourth of the year’s collection.
Supporters are urged to scour their book shelves for books (and CDs and DVDs) they might donate for the spring. The website, bmandwbooks.com, gives guidelines on the types of books that are needed most.
Government officials — from President Obama to Governor Christie to the local assembly people — were on hand to remind residents and business owners that help is available. The office of Assemblyman Reed Gusciora offered a list of government resources and advice on how to contact them:
“For businesses that suffered losses during the hurricane, business owners must first contact their County Office of Emergency Management and their insurance provider. For information about New Jersey State assistance for businesses, contact the New Jersey Business Action Center at 866-534-7789. State assistance programs, including the Main Street Disaster Relief Program, can also be viewed at www.newjerseybusiness.gov.
“Federal assistance loans for businesses in designated counties will be available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Visit www.sba.gov for the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program or call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Disaster loans can be applied for electronically from SBA’s website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
“For Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the number to file a claim for damage to both personal and business property is 800-621-FEMA. Application can also be made at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services reported that residents and business owners displaced by flooding, loss of power, or other damage from Hurricane Irene can get guidance from the Department’s toll-free Public Health Call Center and on the department’s website at nj.gov/health.
In the wake of Irene, just as in the aftermath of 9/11, Katrina, and other disasters, some people will want to help. One opportunity: the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup to be held on Saturday, September 17.
Noting that litter travels downhill to streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans, and that cleanups are needed more than ever after Hurricane Irene, the clean-up organization has extended its registration deadline to this Friday, September 9, for New Jersey sites.
To register online, go to www.njclean.org, or contact Sandy Huber at email@example.com at the New Jersey Clean Communities Council. Also needing volunteer help: The D&R Canal State Park in Griggstown. Contact Patricia Kallesser at 609-924-5705.