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Mon November 5, 2012
Sandy Recovery Effort Faces A New Storm
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 2:08 pm
NEAL CONAN, HOST:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Since this time last week, parts of the Northeast have been transformed. The lights are back on in many areas, the floodwaters retreated, most public transportation is up and running, and most New York City schools reopened this morning. But wreckage still blocks streets, hundreds of thousands still lack power, gas is still short in North Jersey and on Long Island.
Tens of thousands don't know when they're going to be able to return to their homes, and for too many there's no home to go back to. It's also gotten colder since Sandy passed, and now forecasters warn of another storm, maybe Wednesday. It's been a week. What's changed? Tell us your story, 800-989-8255 is the phone number. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.
Later in the program, the R-word on The Opinion Page this week. But we begin with one of the hardest-hit areas, New York's Staten Island. Laura Schwartz called us last Tuesday to describe the damage there last week, and she's back with us on the line. Nice to have you with us.
LAURA SCHWARTZ: Yeah. Hi, Neal, how are you?
CONAN: I'm good, how are you doing?
SCHWARTZ: We're getting there. We're getting there very slowly, but, you know, slowly is better than nothing.
CONAN: Is the power back on?
SCHWARTZ: Some places, yeah. The transmitters are still blowing. Like we just got our power back the other night, but you know, half my neighborhood's still out. It's on and off. So you know, it's like a game. It's like a cruel game.
CONAN: And the water, is it all back where it's supposed to be?
SCHWARTZ: Not in some places. I know still down in my neighborhood, in Oakwood Beach and New Dorp Beach, and by Midland, there's still a lot of water. But it's not as bad as it was last week. But you know, it's still there. So we're still pumping out water, and you know, we're doing the best that we can.
CONAN: And have you been able to get back to work?
SCHWARTZ: Yes, fortunately enough I have a car. However, you know, with this gas crisis right now, it's about - I waited on line three and a half hours the other day to fill up my tank at Costco, and then me and my girlfriend went last night, and we waited two hours to go to a gas station. So you know, that's - that doesn't really seem like it's changing that much.
I know Jersey, they're saying that there's shorter gas lines, but a lot of us can't even make it over the bridge to get to Jersey.
CONAN: Yeah, of course Staten Island is an island. It's the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn and the Outer Bridge Crossing to get to Jersey.
SCHWARTZ: Right, right.
CONAN: The gas lines, are people being OK? Are people being polite?
SCHWARTZ: The ones I've been on, yeah, it's been OK. We had a couple people, you know, trying to cut ahead, and you know, they get kicked out. So - but so far, you know, I haven't experienced any fights yet, which is - which is good. I mean, you know, like I said, it's coming along really slow. I've been - you know, as I've been driving back and forth to work, I've noticed some of the gas lines have receded a little bit.
But this - you know, there's still lines. It's going to take a while for things to get back to normal, without a doubt.
CONAN: It's been a week. It's now hard to remember. It's been a very intense week, but a week ago your neighborhood looked awfully different than it does right now.
SCHWARTZ: It's not even my neighborhood anymore. It literally is a war zone; what they're saying is true. It's a complete - it's chaotic. It's a mess, it really is. It breaks everybody's heart.
CONAN: And have there been people there providing the assistance that's needed?
SCHWARTZ: Yes, actually it's overwhelming to see the number of volunteers that we've had out. I mean you know, Staten Island, it truly is a forgotten borough, and the amount of people pouring in, you know, even though the marathon runners, I was so happy to, you know, hear that they came over the ferry to help everybody out.
It's been overwhelming. You know, I mean as far as government assistance has been, it's - you know, it's sad because, you know, FEMA, it took them, you know, three, four days just to get down to the neighborhood, and that's terrible, you know. I mean it shouldn't be like that.
The Red Cross, you know, they should have came a lot sooner than they did. You know, and now that they're here, I mean, it's still - you know, it's not very much help. I mean I think we're getting more help from, you know, the people of Staten Island versus the government, to be honest with you.
CONAN: There's been a lot of frustration voiced by the politicians down there that so much of the attention goes to better-known places.
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. I mean I know in the very beginning, you know, a lot of the governments were going down towards the Tottenville area, which is, you know, we consider it more of a richer part of Staten Island. And you know, and it's sad. I mean I know they got hit hard, you know, too, you know, especially on Yetman Avenue, that poor 13-year-old girl that passed away.
But, I mean, you know, it sucks. I mean the middle-class communities, you know, it's like we got looked over completely, and it's terrible. I mean, now that this happened, you know, Staten Islanders - we're loud and we're proud, and I mean, you know, we really got our voice heard out there, and now we're getting a lot of coverage on the news, which is great.
So the, you know, the outpour of help is - you know, like I said, it's been overwhelming. But you know, it's - we still need a lot of help. I mean now it's not even clothes anymore. Now we need cleaning supplies. That's a huge demand right now, is baby supplies, you know, diapers, formula, things like that, and cleaning supplies just to clean up - you know, brooms, mask, cleaning - work gloves, you know, like Lysol wipes, anything like that. That's what we need.
CONAN: Maybe a little bleach too.
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.
CONAN: We're glad to hear you're doing better, Laura. Thanks very much.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you. Can I just say one more thing?
SCHWARTZ: My friend made a site on Facebook, it's a group, it's called Staten Island Strong, the Forgotten Borough. We started it on Friday. Right now we have a little over 1,000 members. And the site is - it's phenomenal. It's for anybody. You don't even have to be a resident of Staten Island. You can go on Facebook and like the group and post any kind of information that you have.
If you have things that you're willing to donate, you can put on there. If you know any places that are taking donations, any kind of fundraisers going on, you know, to help with the disaster relief, you can put any information on this site. Last night we had a woman that lost all her furniture from the storm and another woman who was donating furniture, and the two of them met up on the site, and now they're - you know, the woman's able to help out this other woman by giving her her furniture.
So if anybody wants to go on Facebook, again, you know, it's called Staten Island Strong, the Forgotten Borough. And you know, any information is, you know, more than welcome.
CONAN: Laura Schwartz, thanks very much for your time.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Neal, take care.
CONAN: Laura Schwartz by phone with us from Staten Island in New York, 800-989-8255. Email email@example.com. What's changed a week after Sandy? Let's go to Shelley(ph), and Shelley's with us from Princeton, New Jersey.
SHELLEY: Hi, Neal.
CONAN: Hi, Shelley.
SHELLEY: Thanks so much for taking my call. I love the show. It's wonderful to have the opportunity to hear how other folks are doing. I think one of the big challenges for us during the power outage was just that feeling of isolation and nobody really having a good sense of what was going on. And that certainly changed.
We still have about 30 percent of people in town without power, but our public service setup is really good. The people have been fantastic. And the places that did have power immediately opened their doors. So it's feeling a little bit more connected now. And today for the first time the kids were back in school and they were so happy. I don't think my son's ever scooted - I mean he was on his scooter, I was like, wait, don't you need this. You know, he was out the door. He was so glad to be going back.
CONAN: And Princeton well inland, so I assume most of the power loss is because of trees falling on lines, that sort of thing?
SHELLEY: Yeah, we have a beautiful town with a lot of trees, and we have a lot fewer trees now. I actually spent the morning in Belmar, which is out on the shore, because we had been without power for I guess probably five days, and when the power comes back, you just feel like, OK, you know, now I'm all right.
So I headed up to Belmar, and it's a completely different world out there. I mean there's no power anywhere. Everybody's basement is completely wrecked. And it's just - you can see it in people's eyes that they're just sort of looking around and trying to figure out what's going to happen now.
CONAN: Obviously some places it's going to be days till things get back to normal, some places years - if ever.
CONAN: Yeah. Shelley, thanks very much for the call.
SHELLEY: Thanks for your work.
CONAN: Thank you. Let's go next to - this is Martin Kaste, who - NPR's correspondent who joins us from Queens, New York, where he's been talking with people displaced by the storm. And Martin Kaste, many people are wondering when they can get back home. And of course many people, thousands, have no homes to go to.
MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Yeah, Neal, what we're trying to figure out today is sort of where that process is, that sort of in many cases multi-stage process of people who can't go home right now, where they go next. The first step for a lot of them were these shelters. I visited one in Jamaica, which was a high school, which was actually a shelter before the storm hit; people took shelter there from some of the coastal areas and then ended up having to stay.
The process right now is one of where to go from here. FEMA has offered to pay hotel rooms for up to two weeks for people who log in or register with FEMA. And that's working for some people, but it's not a smooth process for everybody. They've been seeing some trouble there. So a lot of people are still stuck in high school gymnasiums sleeping on cots with their children.
CONAN: What's the big problem? Is it water damage, lack of power, what?
KASTE: Well, the problem in their homes varies. In some cases it's lack of power or heat, and it's getting cold. It's going to be in the 30s tonight. In other cases, especially public housing, there's just infrastructure problems, buildings that just can't be reopened yet, non-working elevators, that kind of thing.
And the problems that they're seeing on the FEMA side or on the temporary housing side tend to be just availability. You know, FEMA, they go online with FEMA, they get a registration number, and that's supposed to represent a voucher that they can take to a hotel, and the government's supposed to pay their bill directly.
And that's happening in a few places, but a lot of hotels either don't understand the program or don't want to go along with it because the people I talked to said they're calling these lists of 800 numbers for reservation desks for hotel chains, and they say, well, you've got pay up front. And a lot of these people don't have that money.
CONAN: One other thing - that gas shortage, I know you've been looking into that too. Is this a function of lack of gasoline or too many gas stations who don't have power and can't pump gas?
KASTE: It's the latter. Yesterday I was in Bayonne, just across the water from downtown Manhattan, where the giant oil terminal sits, and yet - and there's gasoline, there's gasoline coming in. The federal government has sent in more. But I talked to an owner of one gas station there who said he's got gas in the tanks underground, but he doesn't have the power to pump them.
And a lot of the stations simply aren't even equipped to take the kind of large-scale diesel generator you need to pump gasoline. You know, these little ones don't do it. So the few gas stations that are equipped for the bigger generators, they're getting up on line, but a lot of gas stations, especially northern New Jersey, simply can't pump gas right now even if they have it.
CONAN: Any idea, very quickly, about how long it's going to take to resolve that situation?
KASTE: I think the number of gas stations pumping gas will track pretty closely with the number of places that have power restored. So it could take a while in some of the more leafier suburbs.
CONAN: We'll be checking in on the power situation after a short break. Martin Kaste, thanks very much for your time.
KASTE: You're welcome.
CONAN: NPR correspondent Martin Kaste, with us from Queens in New York. What's changed in the past week where you live after Sandy? 800-989-8255. Stay with us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. We're talking about what's changed a week after Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast. Last Thursday we heard from Alejandra Ospina, a disability activist in New York. Her husband Nicolas is on a ventilator. She was powering it with car batteries at that time.
She had some good news when we checked back with her earlier today. The lights are back on, though they're still waiting for heat and hot water. We also got an update from Bridie Hatch. Her wife was in labor at an NYU hospital when they were evacuated during the storm. Today was their son's first appointment at the pediatrician's office and the first time they've felt normal, she says, since the storm hit.
David Cisneros, the electrical lineman we spoke with, said this morning he made it to Long Island and was too busy to talk. We can only assume that means he's hard at work getting the lights turned back on. It's been a week. What's changed for you? Tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.
One of the first steps in storm recovery has been pumping water out of homes, businesses, tunnels and subway stations filled with millions of gallons of often salty water. It's a job known in the trade as de-watering. Joining us now is Mike Delzingaro. He's vice president and director of sales with Xylem, a company that makes industrial water pumps, and he's been out onsite at some of the places that are still waterlogged. Nice to have you with us today.
MIKE DELZINGARO: Thank you, Neal. I'm honored to be here today.
CONAN: Oh, well, that's nice of you to say. Where have you been pumping this week?
DELZINGARO: Both in Central and North Jersey and on Long Island and also in New York City, is mainly the areas that I've been concentrating.
CONAN: And have these been homes?
DELZINGARO: No, mostly industrial complexes - refineries, fuel transfer points, and also water and wastewater treatment facilities.
CONAN: And all of those can present very different problems.
DELZINGARO: Yes, they can. With the amount of water that came in when the ocean met the bay, basically a lot of the infrastructure got inundated and compromised, and that's when they call in basically for solutions like Godwin pumps or Xylem de-watering offers.
CONAN: And you basically bring big generators and big pumps?
DELZINGARO: We bring big pumps that are diesel-driven. So we don't need generators for most of our applications, sir.
CONAN: And how much water can you get rid of and how quickly?
DELZINGARO: Depending on the number of units, our biggest unit can move up to 15 million gallons of water a day or about 10,000 gallons a minute.
CONAN: And is that water treated in any way? I mean if it's been in a refinery or something like that, it might be pretty filthy.
DELZINGARO: It is. Basically we pump sewage, we pump contaminated groundwater, we, you know, whatever it may be that's touched, you know, whatever is at the facility, we have solids-handling pumps that basically pump very different components of, that's in water.
CONAN: And I wonder, as you've looked at the damage, you've been in this business a while, can you give us any kind of comparison?
DELZINGARO: This is the worst storm in the 15 years that I've been with Godwin Pumps that I've seen. I've lived through Floyd; Katrina from afar, moving equipment; last year Irene; and then Isaac earlier this year. And by far this is the most - I think had the most impact on our people here locally and for what we have to do as far as the equipment we've moved in. It's been the most tremendous.
CONAN: As you probably know better than I, there's another nor'easter working its way up the coast.
DELZINGARO: Yes sir, there is, and people are continuing to be nervous. We've gotten people probably at this point who have gotten done some of their de-watering, have taken their equipment off-rent - that's what we do, is rent our equipment - and they're keeping it to see what Wednesday's northeaster is going to bring them.
CONAN: Because there - I'm just suspecting here a lot of places that were compromised by Sandy that are going to be more vulnerable if there's another surge next Wednesday.
DELZINGARO: They would be, sir, exactly.
CONAN: You're also orchestrating the movement of a lot of equipment. Are you getting enough fuel? Are you handling that?
DELZINGARO: We are. Most of the time our equipment is rented to the end users; their responsibility is to fuel it, and we haven't heard any really complaints with regards to that. It's mostly off-road diesel, which has been a little bit easier to get than the on-road diesel that's used by trucks and cars and vehicles.
CONAN: And as you're doing this, somebody else's problem is somebody else's opportunity. This is a moment where you guys can make a lot of money.
DELZINGARO: Really what I'm trying to do is - these customers have been customers of ours for 30 years. So we really are there to satiate their need. They're in bad ways. So you know, I'm not - look, I'm not really looking at the money aspect of this. It's really trying to get them back up and running and basically making them whole again. And that's really what we're here to do, and we've been doing that for a very long time.
So we've moved about 50 tractor trailers in the last two weeks, of equipment from all over the country, and we continue to move equipment in because it's only getting worse. As people are going back to work and getting to see what their operations are, we're getting more and more calls every day.
CONAN: So it sounds like you're also putting a lot more people to work than you might have in a normal week.
DELZINGARO: We are, sir, yes, and we're bringing people in from our other facilities around the country to help augment the staff that we have in both of our New Jersey facilities, and really our Maryland and Connecticut facility has also seen an uptick in business just because of everything that's occurred because of Sandy.
CONAN: We'll let you get back to work. Thanks very much for the time.
DELZINGARO: Thank you for your time. Again, I'm honored.
CONAN: Mike Delzingaro, vice president and director of sales with Xylem, a company that makes industrial strength water pumps. He joined us by phone from Bridgeport in New Jersey. Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. This is Tom, Tom with us from Upper Black Eddy in Pennsylvania.
TOM: Hi there, Neal, thank you for taking my call. Your question is what has changed, and it's ironic. As I've been on hold, I've been driving back from the laundromat, where I did my clothes, and I came to yet another tree down across a road with eye-level power lines that made me turn around and retrace my steps, and now I'm trying to find my way back home.
In Upper Black Eddy, we have lots and lots of trees, it's a beautiful area, but many of them are down. And it looks like a war zone. And there hasn't been power now for a full seven days. And luckily we didn't suffer any damage. But it's very strange - last night, with the change in the time and it being dark outside, and us having no electricity, my wife looked at me and she said, well, you know, I guess it's time to go to bed, and it was only 5:45 in the evening.
So it's a very strange thing when you don't have screens to look at to keep you awake.
CONAN: If you find yourselves painting pictures of mastodons on your walls, then it's time to rethink it.
TOM: I think you're right.
CONAN: Can you tell us where Upper Black Eddy is?
TOM: Yes, it's in upper Buck's County in Pennsylvania, very close to the Delaware River, right across from the town of Milford, New Jersey.
CONAN: So in the Delaware Valley there.
TOM: It is in the Delaware Valley, yes.
CONAN: Buck's County, very beautiful, as you say.
TOM: It is quite beautiful, but lots of trees down and, you know, just very, very difficult getting around.
CONAN: Good luck...
TOM: The good news is that people are really helping one another. You know, all the sentiments that have been expressed on your program today I can echo here in Upper Black Eddy. People are bending over backwards to make sure that everyone is OK, people going around, checking on the elderly, bringing them water, you know, making sure that they have potable water to cook with and drink and things like that.
So it's - you know, people are really pulling together all over the region, I think.
CONAN: That's great news, Tom, and maybe a chainsaw next time?
TOM: Well, I've got a chainsaw, and it's been in good use.
CONAN: All right, thanks very much for the phone call. Good luck.
TOM: All right, take care, bye-bye.
CONAN: Here's an email that we have from Elizabeth: I'm a caller from last Tuesday's show from Lebanon, New Jersey, Hunterdon County. The initial adrenaline has run out. Now reality sets in. Since last Tuesday, we have no power, no water, no heat. The line for gasoline is one to two miles long. We're in a less-populated rural area, but we all have a lot of damage too.
We all have so many trees to remove. There's been little or no help from public administration. Only yesterday someone from JCP - that's the local power company - finally came to assess the situation. Maybe after Wednesday we'll have power, but it's unlikely. We need electricity, we need gasoline.
Well, joining us here in Studio 3A is NPR correspondent Elizabeth Shogren. She's been following ongoing efforts to get power back up in all of these areas. Nice to have you back on the program.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Nice to be back.
CONAN: And I know there's been a lot of progress, but that comes as no comfort to somebody who can't turn on the lights.
SHOGREN: Right, and I guess maybe first we should say that there really has been a lot of progress. At the peak it was 8.5 million customers without power, and now it's about 1.4 million. So that's a long way, but there's still a long way to go. Many of the states that we talked about where there was no power last week, now they have no outages.
The states with outages has shrunk from 20 to seven states, but - and in those seven states there is a lot of hope that in fact the list will shrink even further. But in New York, New Jersey and West Virginia, power companies are telling me that their customers could be without - at least some of them will be without power well into next week and maybe even longer.
CONAN: And of course there's that other storm coming up the coast, so we don't know what effect that might have. Do we have any idea what percentage of these are retail outages, in other words, a tree fell over a line and down that block they're out of power? How many of these are wholesale where a transformer blew up and the whole community is out of power?
SHOGREN: Well, the power companies I've been talking to say that in most cases the high-voltage lines are back up. That's what they look to put back up first, because once they have the major lines in, then they can go in and start fixing up the lines that supply the neighborhoods. But it's just so many neighborhoods that are down. You look at these - you can actually go online and look at the maps of where all the people are that are without power, and you can see that it's just lots and lots of people spread across huge metropolitan areas, like Long Island still has lots and lots of people without power, and their utility there says that 100,000 people on the south shore could still be without power for a long time, and then there are clusters of people on the northern part of Long Island that are still without power, a quarter million people there still without power.
CONAN: And this is going to be an issue tomorrow, Election Day. Those are recorded in a lot of places electronically, and they're going to have to shift polling places and move machines and do all kinds of tricks in Long Island, in Connecticut and in New York and in New Jersey.
SHOGREN: I went on the websites of some of the towns in some of these very hard-hit areas and they - there are lots of instructions there on town websites - where do you go to vote - because you can't go to vote in the normal places. The power companies are trying to focus on getting those power - polling stations with power by tomorrow. But, you know, it's a tough time.
CONAN: And if you don't have power, it's difficult to get up to your website and find where you're supposed to go to vote.
SHOGREN: It's very tricky that - and I think one of the things that is happening lots of the communities where they don't have much power, even if city hall doesn't have any power or whatever your government center is, they've found a way to have a generator that will fuel the city hall or something so that you can go there and try to find out information, if that's what it comes to.
CONAN: And this is going to raise a lot of questions about the grid itself and its robustness, or lack of.
SHOGREN: That's really true. Last week, I spent a lot of time speaking with experts and something called the smart grid, which is this technology where they're trying to make the grid be more high tech so that you can - so that the grid operators can actually look at their computers and find out what's going wrong and not have to wait for you to call them and tell them. And that's something that's just basically taking little baby steps in our country. And the people who are experts in that kind of technology say that things would not have been nearly this bad if we've had a smarter grid and in fact - and also that power would be restored quicker. But that's something we're still far way off.
CONAN: Well, we'll continue to get updates. Elizabeth Shogren, thank you very much.
SHOGREN: Thank you.
CONAN: NPR correspondent Elizabeth Shogren joined us here in Studio 3A, and you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. We're trying to find out what's happened in the week since Sandy came ashore in southern New Jersey. Places have been changed. They don't look the same and may not look the same for days, weeks, months or maybe ever. 800-989-8255. Email: email@example.com. Let's go to Emily, and Emily with us from Bay Village in Ohio.
EMILY: Hi, Neal. How are you?
CONAN: I'm well. Thank you.
EMILY: Thank you for having me on the show. I'm a big fan.
CONAN: Thank you.
EMILY: We were without power from Monday all the way till Saturday, some neighbors not having power till Sunday late yesterday, late at night. I think our big concern here in Ohio was most of our trucks had left to go to the East Coast.
CONAN: So they had gone to help out people in, well...
CONAN: ...New York or New Jersey, some place and leaving you in the lurch.
EMILY: Exactly. And so, I guess, my question is more about the infrastructure itself and the grid. We have many beautiful trees in our area. Most - that was our problem. Many, many of them fell down on the power lines. And then when the crews did come in, they were unfamiliar with our area, so I think they had come up from the west, something like that. They had sent them in. And so it took them a long time to get familiarized with the neighborhoods and get the power lines back up and running.
CONAN: Well, I think that's - you're having people from Texas or California going through...
CONAN: ...the streets of Long Island, so they're little unfamiliar too.
EMILY: Right. Yeah. It was very difficult so - but, luckily, we didn't sustain much damage to our home. There are a lot of people that did have flooding, but the fact that the power is out for such a long time and we weren't even really in the major part of the storm like the people in New Jersey. So my question would be more of how can they improve the system overall?
CONAN: Good question, Emily. Thank you.
CONAN: We'll try to get...
EMILY: Thank you.
CONAN: ...answers for you as we move along.
EMILY: OK. Great. Thanks.
CONAN: Thanks very much for the call.
CONAN: And let's see - we go next to - this is Jean, and Jean with us from Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey.
JEAN: Hi, Neal. Thanks for taking the call.
CONAN: Go ahead.
JEAN: Hi. So I was - I'm more fortunate than some of my neighbors where I was out of power until Friday, but that's only because my house happens to be on the outskirts of the town. And most everyone in the whole town of Hopatcong and we live in the lakes region, the northwest. Lake Hopatcong and Hopatcong is in the northwest region of New Jersey. And I'll tell you it's making us all question just how we're going to make changes moving forward. You know, it's just so cold, and where there are so many people who are still without power, friends and family members of mine, you know, where everyone is - the conversation is not just about gas lines. The conversation is maybe we need to think about a woodstove, maybe we, you know, most people up where I live here, you know, it's very rural and country, and we like it that way.
But people are rethinking how many trees they have on their property, and they're rethinking their well. And that maybe is going to be worth the money to tap - to try to get some sort of city water tapped in because to go without these services for such a duration is becoming very, very difficult.
CONAN: If you have a well, of course, you need power to get the water up. And at least when I was a kid, growing up in New Jersey, that part of the state, you think of it as heavily industrial, and it is. You think of it as heavily suburban, and it is. But that part of the state, as you say, pretty rural. A lot of dairies up there.
JEAN: A lot of dairies and, you know, lots of farms, but it's the lakes region of New Jersey. And it's, you know, we're - we like to think of ourselves as a little bit more rugged because we, you know, we know there are snow - the snow storms are going to hit us harder, and we're able to handle some things. But this has just been really tough, and I think people - definitely myself, we're re-evaluating how we're, you know, just making sure things are in place on living when something like this could happen for such a duration.
CONAN: It's a good time to ask questions, Jean. Thanks very much for the call.
JEAN: Thanks, Neal.
CONAN: Thanks to everybody who emailed and called us. We're sorry we couldn't get to everybody. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.