EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Sue Mcananey was unloading groceries from her car Wednesday a few feet from where a tree blocked part of the block on which she lives. The 42-year-old Fairview Drive resident said she and her husband had no plans to fire up the grill for the traditional Fourth of July barbecue.
“We just kind of called it a day,” she said. “I feel like we were blessed. It’s a wake-up call...to be grateful for what we had because it can be gone like that.”
After a few harrowing days without electricity and other comforts, Mcananey said her family was using the Independence Day holiday to be thankful for what they have rather than planning anything special.
The couple also just had thrown out more than $250 worth of groceries and weathered severe heat following the destructive June 29 storm, and didn’t feel like cooking outside.
“That’s the great paradox,” Mcananey said. “I always would tell people, ‘I’d rather have fresh air.’ But I’ll tell you, I’d rather have the air (conditioning). I’m enjoying it.”
Typically marked by family gatherings and barbecues, this year’s Fourth of July was an atypical one for many residents who have spent much of this week cleaning up the devastation that damaged their homes or at the very least littered their yards. Chain saws were more likely to be heard than the sound of partying.
“Everybody’s so busy,” said Matt Cairnes, 74, also of Egg Harbor Township. “All I hear is buzzing.”
Cairnes, who works at Bally’s Atlantic City casino, said he rarely gets the day off from work and he had intended to spend the day with family. But with no electricity in his house, the last thing he wanted to do was fire up the grill.
“One thing I don’t need is heat on heat,” Cairnes said. “It’s hot enough.”
Carl Whickman, 26, who also had the day off from work as a dishwasher, said he was spending the day relaxing as his two daughters enjoyed the pool. In the background was a large downed tree blocking his street. The site of the tree didn’t seem to faze him as electricity had been returned to his home.
“I was just happy that I had power,” he said.
But while some residents skipped the barbecue, others said nothing was going to stop them from throwing their annual get-together. It helped Jean Levine, 67, of Egg Harbor Township, that the storm spared her backyard from any major damage.
“We were lucky we didn’t have a lot of damage,” she said.
Levine invited four generations of her family to her backyard for the Fourth, with the youngest being 5-month-old Lila and the oldest being the 89-year-old matriarch, also named Lila. Some of her guests came from afar, including from Mount Laurel in Burlington County and Dover, Del.
Family members were going to go ahead with the barbecue even if they had to move it to the alternative location, which would have been at her home, said Levine’s daughter-in-law, Mary Beth Lesher, 54, of Mount Laurel. Others might not have that option, she said.
“Everybody’s cleaning (from the storm),” Lesher said. “Nobody has the luxury of doing that this year.”
Levine’s sister, Susan Lugerner, 64, of Egg Harbor City, who also lost power for a day or so, said there may be a simple reason for fewer barbecues this year.
“Everybody’s in their AC, to tell you the truth,” she said.
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