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Power may be scarce in Conn., not acts of kindness

By Brittany Lyte
Connecticut Post / November 11, 2011

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—When Monroe resident Kay Inderdohnen found herself in the dark after a bizarre October snowstorm cut off utilities for nearly a million Connecticut residents, she checked on her neighbors.

They were without power, too.

So Inderdohnen decided to share her generator. She and her neighbors passed it back and forth until power was restored to the neighborhood six days later.

In another part of Monroe, Charlotte Christiana, 58, was also starting the afternoon without power. But suddenly the heat and lights were back on and running.

Friends who didn't lose power in Shelton had brought her their generator to use.

"I lost a half gallon of milk," Christiana said. "I think I lucked out."

For people who were -- or still are -- without heat and electricity, simple acts of kindness from friends, neighbors and strangers helped bring smiles to their otherwise frustrated, near-freezing faces.

For Leo Gulomb, it was a cup of joe.

Gulomb, 75, had his first taste of coffee in four days at the shelter in Seymour last Wednesday morning. The folks who donated, brewed and offered the piping hot drink to sheltergoers seeking warmth in the wake of the storm were something like heroes to Gulomb and others who had gone several days without their daily caffeine fix.

"It's absolutely perfect, gorgeous, necessary and needed," said Gulomb, his hands cupped possessively around a cup of java. "Thank God for the people that made this coffee."

At the same shelter a day earlier, Karissa Bird, 11, was feeling hungry. The food had all but spoiled at her home in Seymour. For days, she and her mother, Dawn Szubik, had been living on Halloween candy and dry cereal.

When a pair of women there learned Karissa was hungry, they offered her a bag of potato chips.

Karissa returned to the shelter the next day with two pieces of Halloween candy. She hoped the women would be there again to accept her showing of reciprocity.

"She wanted to thank them," said Szubik, 46. "That she thought to do that on her own made me the proudest mom."

Fran Weiss, who lives alone in Fairfield, spent the first night of the massive power outage bundled in her bed. But on the second night, it was just too cold to bear. But the town shelter wasn't operating overnight. And all the hotels in the area were booked.

A resourceful Fairfield firefighter, however, was able to find her a bed at The Carolton Chronic & Convalescent Hospital.

At the hospital, the staff offered Weiss a toothbrush, toothpaste and a warm, comfortable room to sleep in.

In the morning, Weiss washed and dressed herself and headed out the door. But the staff insisted she first eat a breakfast of oatmeal, bacon and eggs.

"Who said the people of Connecticut are not a caring lot?" she said in an email.