WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
A day after an elderly couple died in a blaze sparked by a kerosene lamp in their Teaneck, N.J., home that lost power, the close-knit northern New Jersey community mourned their loss and continued to improvise without heat or power following the nor’easter last weekend.
Henry Mood, 88, and his wife Alberta, 86, lived on Shepard Avenue where neighbors said electricity has been out since Saturday when the surprise snowstorm struck.
The smell of smoke from the fire was still lingering on the tree lined street a day later. A steady procession of local vehicles slowed down to a stop to take in the horrific scene of the heavily damaged two story home that had been the Mood home for decades.
A few doors down a long time resident Benjamin Whaley said the elderly couple was well liked. "They were without heat," said Whaley.
Whaley said Henry Mood recently had had a car accident but seemed to be taking it in his stride. "He was getting around with a cane. He was just trying to do his best. He was stubborn but he held his own and he had all his sensibilities," Whaley said. "He could tell you about things in the 1930s and 40s."
Whaley and Teaneck residents on the block expressed support for a registry of elderly and special needs households that the community could access during event like this latest prolonged outage.
"But the people have to let you in. When you get older people still want to be self-sufficient. They don't want a handout. And that's they way he [Henry Mood] was," Whaley said.
Days later, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey's residents braced for their fourth night without heat and power — raising questions of how to help those who are ill equipped to handle prolonged power outages.
In her Teaneck office on Cedar Lane, state Senator Lorretta Weinberg said a registry of the elderly, disabled and other who may have difficulty during prolonged power outages should be a top priority.
"Between the utilities, the local police, municipal officials and the community we can get this together," she said.
At the Teaneck Public Library, resident Ken Tuck, said the deaths of the Moods, who he knew, was a topic of conversation among residents who passed their own power updates to each other in whispered tones at the library.
It wasn’t the only accident as a result of people trying to cope with the wide-spread power outages in the region.
In Connecticut, an 85-year-old man was found dead in his home in Sharon, due to high levels of carbon monoxide from a faulty generator being used for power. Additionally, 10 people were hospitalized in Meriden, CT, for carbon monoxide exposure in a house where a generator was being used. Hundreds of thousands are still without power in Connecticut.
With the Associated Press