Command Center on 11th Street

On the night before the storm, Howard and Donna Olah-Reiken scrambled to move their belongings and restock their supply of water bottles, unsure of how hard they would get hit. They anxiously watched CNN as Sandy ravaged the mile-square city of Hoboken. On Tuesday morning, they woke up and discovered that they “fortunately didn’t lose power,” as 11th Street is on another city’s grid.

They started to take initiative by putting out power strips so people could charge their electronics. Locals who had lost power began to gather around the outlets, so naturally Donna made a pot of coffee. Soon enough, she had a designated “coffee runner,” whose sole task was to bring coffee from the kitchen to the front stoop.

In addition, the Olah-Reikens offered Internet, food, and hot showers, and soon became a hub for connectivity in the community. As two of the few members of the United Synagogue of Hoboken who were not affected by power outages, they became the designated command center for the United Synagogue community.

Donna described it as “one big block party:” food and supplies were never running short, as everyone was happy to share the food they had brought from home. The Olah-Reikens stated that, “just seeing everybody help each other out [is] a great endorsement for Hoboken [as a] cohesive community. It was a great experience for everyone.”