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Sandy Brings Sense of Community to Neighbors

Residents lean on each other as most of Hopatcong remains without power in storm's aftermath.

Before Hurricane Sandy, the residents on Washington Trail were just ordinary neighbors.

They were friendly, and knew to turn to each other if they ever needed help.

But after the storm knocked out power and caused severge damage throughout the borough last week, 14 of the residents on that Hopatcong street have become one large family, after having spent the past 10 nights for dinner together.

The six families on Washington Trail have made the best out of the situation.

One of the families, the Blocks, has a generator and have been welcoming the other five familes: the Scales, Stahls, Mosers, Dinulos and Flannerys over their house daily.

The neighbors say they have spent every day together, whether it's going to the supermarket, getting gas, or just having a "family" game night. While many have been anticipating the power to come back, they say they are enjoying their quality time together.

"We are living in our little community, sharing everything and it has been such a blessing," resident Donna Scales said. "Without such helpful, kind and supportive neighbors we would be much worse off than we are."

Melissa Dinulous, who has been coming over with her two daughters Julia and Cameron everyday, said she feels fortunate to have such a great relationship with her neighbors.

"I am so grateful and so thankful that we have this because there's so many people who don't," she said. "I've seen the best and worst, and I've seen more of the best of people during this situation than I've seen the worst."

Neighbors throughout the borough have also been helping one another to get through the aftermath of Sandy by sharing generators, hot water, food, or anything else needed to get by every day.

Angelo Priestman posted on the Hopatcong-Sparta Facebook page that he and two other neighbors with generators have been sharing their resources with residents on the street.

He said they have been able to give six homes heat, three homes hot water to take showers, and use two homes for cooking.

"We all help each other on this street at any given time," he said. "[This is] the best street and town I have ever been apart of."

Dawn Morris posted a comment on the Facebook page that residents on Metro Trail have been helping each other since the night of Sandy.

"The next morning [after the storm] our neighbors had me and my three kids warm up and have breakfast," she said. "We had our generator hooked up and let others use our showers and toilets. We made pots of coffee, food on the grill."

Beth Kesselring posted on Facebook that her mother has been helping a young widowed woman by letting her stay in her home.

"Being able to build relationships with your neighbors is what small town life is all about," Kesselring said. "Storm or no storm, I always had the best neighbors in Hopatcong."

While the town is still reportedly at 80 percent without power, the Hopatcong High School shelter remains open. The school's shelter has been the community's hub as thousands have been in and out the past two weeks, and have turned a difficult situation into something positive.

Hopatcong CERT members, the Red Cross and AmeriCorps have been volunteering, and donations of food, clothing and other items have been piling in from all over the country to help both Hopatcong and nearby residents get through the devastating time.

Know another neighbor who has gone extra lengths to help another neighbor during this time? Send an e-mail to lauren.mennen@patch.com

Brenda Breheny November 09, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Excellent article! Keep these stories coming! We are keeping our fingers crossed that everyone's power returns soon!! They (or any other group of neighbors/friends/family doing a similar thing) should have a reunion dinner every year in rememberance of this :-) And how convenient that it is also near Thanksgiving! We all have a lot to be thankful for this year....
Linda Lichtman November 09, 2012 at 01:01 PM
God bless the Douglas' they have helped on too many ways to mention. The greatest neighbors on earth
Peter James November 09, 2012 at 03:07 PM
In the absence of true leadership [er, dat's you mayor], we will take care of our own
Kimberly November 09, 2012 at 10:27 PM
The mayor hasn't been absent, she's been helping at the shelter everyday. Give her a break...she can't eave a magic wand and poof the power comes on.
Rich Smith November 10, 2012 at 01:08 AM
This is a great story about great people. It’s what makes me love Hopatcong. Best wishes to all the families involved and to everyone who has reached out to others. Funny how we will all have bad memories of this storm yet some, those who did something rather than wait for others to do for them, will look back on it as a time of love and sharing.

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