By Berit Ollestad
Brian Engler lives in Bryn Mawr, PA. But he has always called Morristown home.
When he saw TV images of devastation at the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, he instinctively knew where to find a relief effort. On Sunday he rolled up to the Morristown fire department in a rented pickup truck loaded with a treasure trove of canned goods, bottled water, cleaning supplies, pet supplies–you name it.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as people waited two- and three hours in lines to get gas. Luckily my friends and family were spared; but so many weren’t. I felt so helpless and knew I had to do something,” said Engler, a 1986 Delbarton School graduate and former bartender at the Famished Frog.
So he rallied family, friends and neighbors and within a four-hour period his living room was bursting at the seams with donated items, ready for the two-hour drive to Morristown.
He rang the police, who told him the fire department was putting together a relief drive.
“I simply knew I would take them back to what was home for me for many years,” Engler said.
When he arrived at the Speedwell Avenue fire station, he found many others had the same idea. Morristown residents filled a truck with relief items destined for hurricane victims in Toms River.
The whole fire department pitched in, said Acting Fire Chief Bob Flanagan.
“It’s like a firefighter mentality. When we see a problem we automatically want to fix it,” added Morristown Firefighter Greg ‘Herman’ Blekicki.
“We are fortunate because we have connections that most people don’t have with other local fire departments. We also have the ability to get supplies in to areas that are devastated that oftentimes others are unable to. It really is like a brotherhood when you become a firefighter and we depend on each other, especially during times like these.”
Editor’s note: Berit is too modest to say it, but she helped organize Sunday’s relief drive. Last year she put together a Morristown drive to aid tornado victims in Alabama.