Thinking of our East Coast friends

Photo: American Red Cross / Flickr. November 7, 2012, Staten Island, New York. Luis Enreia was happy to get a box of meals from Red Cross volunteer Gina Mazza in Staten Island to bring back to his mother and father. The family, who is living in one of the hardest hit areas of Staten Island, is keeping warm in their home with a kerosene heater. Gina reminded Luis of ways to stay safe while using a kerosene heater. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.

By Kelsey Larson

Norwegian American Weekly

On the evening of Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast of the U.S. At the time of press, nearly 1.5 million people in New Jersey remain without power. CNN reports that residents are using their outdoor charcoal grills to cook food, and using car batteries to charge their cell phones.

Meanwhile, in New York, temperatures are dropping and people who remain without power six days after the storm may have to look for somewhere else to live temporarily. Gas shortages plague the city, and damage to buildings and public transportation systems has been considerable.

And tragically, as of Nov. 3, Hurricane Sandy’s death toll has reached 110.

The Norwegian American Weekly has many subscribers, contributors, and wonderful friends who live on the east coast. Even though our office is across the country, our thoughts are with all of our friends on the east coast, and especially those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Of course (this comes as no surprise) the Norwegian-American community has stepped up to help in the wake of this horrible tragedy.

On the Sons of Norway blog, CEO Eivind Heiberg made the following announcement:

“I am happy to report that our Foundation stands ready to assist members who have been negatively affected by the storm. The Foundation is prepared to offer Helping Hands to Member Grants for up to $1,000 for current Sons of Norway members who are displaced from their homes due to heavy damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

“If you have been displaced due to the storms, or know another member who has been, notify your Zone Directors, District President or Cindy Olson at the Foundation office (800-945-8851) to learn how you can receive one of these grants. If you were not affected by the storms, I’d like you to consider donating to the Foundation’s Humanitarian Fund, so it can continue its great work of supporting our members in a time of need.”


After the storm ravaged the city, many New York-dwelling Norwegians without power sought help from  the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York.

“We have lengthened our hours because there have been many, especially young people, who live in areas without power and who need to recharge both their bodies and their batteries,” says pastor and general manager Margareth Glad.

The employees of the seaman’s church, as they always do, provided a warm and safe atmosphere for the visitors, and made sure they got in touch with family back home. “Some anxious mothers have called here because they have not been able to get ahold of their children,” said Pastor Glad. And, of course, in addition to water and electricity, those taking refuge at the church were also served hot waffles.

The New York City Marathon was cancelled. However, over 2,000 runners gathered to run anyway, especially those who had raised money for charity in connection to the marathon. Many participants also dropped off donations and supplies for the Hurricane Sandy Relief effort. The New York Daily News reports:

“Jack Waitz, husband of the late legendary Norwegian runner Grete Waitz, who won the New York City marathon nine times, was among the runners.

“‘We all understand why they canceled,’ said Waitz, from Norway, ‘and we will be back and even better next year, but it is still very important to run today. We all paid substantial money to be here, and we raised money.’”


Meanwhile, in the electronic world, the Brooklyn Norwegians group has been using their Facebook page to update each other on power outages, gas shortages, and the most storm-affected areas of the city. Prayer requests and good wishes stand out on the page as well.

While it comes as no surprise that the Norwegian-American community has joined hands in helping those affected by the storm, it is yet another reminder of how truly important and special our community is.

Please join the Norwegian American Weekly staff in keeping those affected by the storm in your thoughts, and if you are so moved, consider donating to the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Humanitarian Fund or organizations like the Red Cross as the eastern seaboard recovers from this terrible tragedy.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 9, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.