By Stan Friedman
CROMWELL, CT (October 29, 2012) – Hurricane Sandy already has forced the cancellation of the East Coast Conference’s 2012 Ashram that was scheduled to begin today as Covenanters along the storm’s expected path and in the wider region beyond are preparing to be without power and fresh water.
“It is important that we cooperate with state and local officials in keeping the roads clear and safe,” explains conference Superintendent Howard Burgoyne in an emailed announcement on Saturday.
“Please pray with us for the millions who will be affected by this storm in the coming days, and for those whose duties require them to be out in harms way to care for people in need,” requested Burgoyne.
“This is the most catastrophic event that we have faced and been able to plan for in any of our lifetimes,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy told national media outlets.
The National Weather Service has warned that an expected storm surge could raise water levels to 11 feet above normal high tide around midnight tonight. The “super storm” also could cause flash floods and snowstorms.”
Covenanters who were affected then are trying to approach Sandy’s arrival with a sense of humor, caution, and a desire to help others.
“Anyone want to start a pool for how many hours or days we’ll be without power this time?” quipped Ann Farley-Rollé on her Facebook page. “Our summer outage of eight days was from a mere derecho (a strong line of violent thunderstorms lasting 1-2 hours). We’ll ship the pool winner persimmons from the tree that we need to pick clean before the winds hit.”
Farley-Rollé has contacted neighbors to check on their plans. “We’ve let them know we have filled up gas tanks of cars and (gasoline) cans for generator power so we can help preserve their food,” she says. “Getting the generator started immediately may be difficult due to darkness and the strength of the wind and rain expected tonight and Tuesday.”
Burgoyne said, “We’ve got extra water, batteries, flashlights, candles, etc. We’re hosting folks who lose power or need help – we cook with gas and have gas hot water.”
Burgoyne said he has prepared to be without power for up to a week. “We’ve got extra ice and coolers in case we need to back up freezer and fridge.”
Sue Gillespie, pastor of Trinity Covenant Church in Livingston, New Jersey, said she expects her basement will flood and to have power knocked out for days. “Thankfully, we now have a generator to run the pump that empties the basement.”
Gillespie says she wouldn’t be surprised if trees fall on houses and cars.
That is why we left one car at the church lot, and invited others to do the same. We have so many tall trees around our houses.”
Gillespie and church members are cooking extra food from their refrigerator and re-freezing it. “We’re storing water in every empty container in case there is a problem with safe water.”
Church members also are expecting wind and rain damage at the church due to the direction of the winds, Gillespie said. “But, last year when so many had no power, the church’s lights stayed on, so a bunch of folks from church came and cooked up the food that would have gone bad, charged up their phones and let the kids play together.
“If the power goes out in the neighborhoods, I hope the church stays on again, and perhaps neighbors will accept our invitation to join us ‘camping out’ at church.
Covenanters along the East Coast are becoming storm veterans. This past June, a huge storm knocked out power along the region. The childcare wing of Church of the Redeemer in Bowie, Maryland, sustained heavy damage.
Hurricane Irene in August 2011 forced the cancellation of services and left 2.4 million people without power. Two months later, a blizzard knocked out power for more than a week in some areas. Gillespie’s residence “became home away from home for several people from the church,” she said at the time.
Burgoyne hopes to make the most of any time spent at home. “I have a stack of books to read, and plenty I can do from home, depending some on if we have power. Now we wait and pray.”