What Does a Hurricane Cost?
Local families tally the before, during, and after costs
Well before the state and nation tally the costs of Hurricane Irene, Jessie Fox has a total. “I bought water, flashlights, batteries, a new shop vac, paper towels, wipes, and much more,” she explains, pulling a sheaf of receipts from her purse. “I am into four figures, well into four figures,” she says. “And I didn’t even buy a generator.”
Fox acknowledges that the $1100 dollars she spent on food, water, auxiliary lights, gas for the cars and trash bags isn’t wasted. “I’ll use the gas, obviously,” she explains. “We’ll eat the food. But, still, it was a chunk of change unexpectedly.” Fox has a family of six and an older relative on her shopping list. “So I guess if you divide per person, it’s not so bad,” she says.
Other locals report similar expenses. “I stocked up on baby stuff,” says Joanne G., of South Orange. “Yes, I’ll use it, but I spent a lot of money at Target on Friday, buying diapers, water, baby food and baby medicines such as Tylenol.”
Empty store shelves told the same story on Saturday, as RiteAid and Eden Gourmet ran out of bread, milk, and batteries. Long lines at Home Depot suggest that many locals invested in generators and other pre-storm necessities.
For Maplewood residents, the expenses are ongoing. Many are still without water and power. While New Jersey American Water Company is distributing water at the pool, many locals are purchasing water, additional flashlights, and take-out food.
“We’re having lots of pizza and using paper plates only,” explains Maureen Ryan. “Yes, it adds up.” She notes that an additional expense for her was doing laundry at a laundromat in South Orange. "It adds up," she says. "It was a lot of quarters!"
Maplewood and South Orange were spared significant injury during Hurricane Irene. “And that’s priceless,” says Ryan. “The rest is just money. We’re all fine, and you can’t put a dollar amount on that.”
Check out the photos of the emergency kit Kim Collins assembled, walkie talkies, glow sticks and all. Now why didn't I think of that???