As Hoboken, New Jersey, continues to dry out from Sandy, a sense of community is emerging from this city in crisis. Throughout the city, National Guard soldiers make the rounds, assisting with evacuations and distributing food to those who need it. Tow trucks cart away vehicles totaled in the storm. And in the midst of all the chaos, it’s the small acts of kindness that people are finding surprising.
Daniel Napiecek was carrying several bags of groceries from the nearest open supermarket back to downtown Hoboken, about a mile away.
He’d heard about a church in his neighborhood that was helping to shelter and feed people, so he wanted to chip in and donate some basic items, like peanut butter and loaves of bread.
He wasn’t the only one. One woman at the shelter walked all the way from her home in North Bergen, several miles away, with a bunch of coffee and egg sandwiches she made. "She just showed up at the church and gave it out for free," Napiecek said. "It was amazing!"
Several Hoboken restaurants also put up signs offering free food to storm victims. And on a section of Hudson Street that didn’t lose power, a small number of row houses had extension cords and surge protectors strung out their front windows, offering free electricity for people to charge their laptops and cell phones.
Just up the street, at St. Peter and Paul Church, Monsignor Bob Meyer was greeting parishioners as they emerged from an All Souls Day mass. The church has been a gathering and information center for local residents.
He said that getting through this storm certainly has not been easy.
"There are natural challenges," he said, "but these situations give us an opportunity, right? We see the best in people, and we continue to try to encourage that.”