While sitting at my desk working Tuesday, something perfectly ordinary happened: My phone started buzzing.
This is not unusual. I typically get at least 150 emails per day, up to a dozen phone calls and between 20 and 30 text messages, most from the Chatham organizations I follow on Twitter. These organizations include Chatham High School, Chatham Borough, the Chatham Township Police Department and the Library of the Chathams.
It was a tweet from the library that made my phone buzz in this particular instance. I've included the text below, complete with hashtags:
We are #thankful that we were able to be open & available to help the public after #Sandy. What are you #thankful for? #Thanksgiving
What this tweet fails to communicate is that the library was supposed to be closed on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Tropical Storm Sandy was predicted to move much slower than it did, and the library announced on Sunday, Oct. 28 they would be closed that Monday and Tuesday because of the storm.
After the worst of the storm passed, Diane O'Brien, the head of the library, got a call from Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris asking her to open up the library so residents could come in, warm up and charge their electronic devices.
O'Brien herself lives in Chatham Township. Her street had power lines down and she could not get to her car. Borough police came and picked her up and brought her to the library that day.
That day, the library was one of only a few places in town that had power. "There were so many people. Everybody was here, they were charging all over the place," O'Brien said. "People brought in their power strips and shared them with others. It was really nice to see how people helped each other in that situation."
When news spread that the library was open, O'Brien began to get some help. "Two of the librarians who live in town here came in and stayed to work," O'Brien said. Librarians who work in other towns or at specialty libraries also gave a helping hand.
Without those extra staff members, O'Brien said she would not have been able to let people rent books or other items from the library. "I would have been totally swamped," she said. "I'm so grateful to them."
It took several days, maybe even nearly two weeks, but the power came back on throughout town and life has, for the most part, returned to normal. Many residents will travel this weekend, or host relatives and friends from out of town—including places hit far worse by Sandy than the Chathams were.
So this Thanksgiving, Chatham Patch echoes the question posed by the Library of the Chathams: What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?