LACKING electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, some residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania lost more than the ability to switch on televisions, computers and other household devices.
They lost food.
Refrigerators and freezers, rendered useless during the extended power outages, became dank repositories for stinky milk, fetid meats and spoiled fruits and vegetables. On Monday the American Red Cross regional office based in Bethlehem issued a press release indicating it can't meet the numerous requests for financial assistance or food to restock each impacted home. While it would be nearly impossible, both logistically and financially, for the Red Cross to replace groceries for that many people, it stated, there are other agencies that can help.
For residents of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, it directed people to the Commission on Economic Opportunity's Weinberg Food Bank, based in Wilkes-Barre. Its phone number: 826-0510.
If in need of aid, make the call. Or contact Help Line, the region's 24-hour information and referral service, a resource that's been active in assisting area residents get through difficult times ever since its creation soon after the Agnes Flood of 1972. Today, its caseworkers can provide emotional support and point you toward the area's other food banks, free meal programs and social services.
For those of you spared any loss by Sandy, this week's announcement serves as a reminder that you were lucky. The Greater Wyoming Valley, ravaged in prior years by raging floods, this time found itself in a sweet spot: protected from the worst of the wind damage, as seen in the Lehigh Valley and Poconos, and outside the zones where the most rain and snow fell.
Count your blessings, but don't discount the level of misfortune with which other, nearby families in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey are dealing. If possible, donate money this month to a reputable disaster-relief program and/or contribute food.
November traditionally marks the start of holiday-inspired canned food drives and other collections of edibles for those in need. This year, because of a natural disaster that skirted past Pittston, Wilkes-Barre and much of the Valley's most populated spots, it's doubly important to do your part. Please give.
For information on food assistance in Luzerne County and nearby areas, call programs such as these:
Weinberg Food Bank, a program of the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO): 826-0510 or 1-800-822-0359.
Help Line, a project of the Family Service Association of Wyoming Valley: 829-1341 or 1-888-829-1341.