Princeton has long been thought of as a magnet for the region. It has the arts, restaurants, historical sites, and shopping to lure nearby residents as well as tourists to town. After Hurricane Sandy, people from Princeton and surrounding towns flocked to Nassau and Witherspoon streets to shop, dine, and get plugged in more ways than one.
The Princeton Public Library has long been coined the Community Living Room, drawing in visitors from the area due to its abundant resources. Thousands set up camp and made the library their second home while their power was out. It literally had wall to wall people using its computers, working on their own laptops at tables or on the floor, charging every device they owned, dropping off kids in the story room for movies, and eating at Terra Libro. At one point there seemed to be nearly as many visitors from out of town as from Princeton, which is probably why a wi-fi signal was hard to obtain. The staff worked diligently to accommodate more people, but it wasn’t until the fourth day after the storm when the number of users began to drop giving most a good chance of getting a signal, and the following day things looked back to normal.
During the second day after the storm, advice was given to go to the Princeton United Methodist Church for wi-fi and charging, since the library was at (or above) maximum capacity. By the time my husband arrived, he found out their wi-fi demand had overwhelmed their system, and they shut down their wi-fi stations, but they offered free hot coffee and tea, snacks, and a hot nutritious dinner via their weekly Cornerstone Community Kitchen. The second day PUMC was up and running, and hosted up to a hundred visitors.
For four days the church members offered breakfast, and prepared hot lunches and/or dinners for the Princeton community, as well as providing charging stations, wi-fi, and warmth. Along with the library, they were able to bring area residents together to contact family members via Skype or email, read the news, or reschedule flights.
There were shops offering free coffee, the Spring Street Garage adjacent to the library had no power and offered free parking up to Thursday after the storm, The Friend Center was open for warmth, charging and refreshments, the Valley Road building was open for warmth and charging, Trinity Church offered warming, charing, a meal and a kids’ movie, Nassau Presbyterian Church was open for warming and charging, PUMC teens cleared a resident’s yard of twigs and branches, The Crisis Ministry was open for food and warmth, eventually JW Middle School was open as a shelter, Pep Boys on Rt 1 is offering free flat tire repair until November 21st, and other merchants lent a hand to those in need. It’s good to know that in a pinch there are places in Princeton to go to stay safe, get connected, or be taken care of. Feel free to share any other places that were open for support.