Not too long ago, Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) member Ted Rainer was looking to sell off the big diesel generator that sat in the back of his shop, Ocean Bay Auto Body in Point Pleasant, NJ. Fortunately for him and hundreds of people from his neighborhood, he held off on the decision long enough to make a substantial difference in people’s lives. When the power went out in his area for 10 days as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Ted switched on his generator, made and put up plywood signs welcoming people in need to his shop and turned Ocean Bay Auto Body into an ad-hoc charging station.
“It was like a dam opened up,” he says. “People were parked here all through the day and night.”
Serving up to 40 residents at a time, Ocean Bay became a place where people could contact loved ones, get a bite to eat and generally decompress after such a stressful ordeal. Ted’s hospitality even caught the attention of the Associated Press, who actually used Rainer’s power to send out editorial to the world.
In addition to helping his neighbors at the shop, Ted and his crew ran cords out to four different families and powered their homes during the blackout. And when cell reception was completely non-existent for many in the area, Ted offered priority use of his internet to local fire and first aid professionals.
As residents returned to their homes and Ocean Bay went back to full capacity, Ted began to understand the gravity of what had just happened – and how he truly made a terrible situation a little better for his fellow citizens.
“It didn’t hit me until a week or so later,” he says. “My wife and I went out to dinner the other day, and people came up to thank us.”
While Ted’s actions led to considerable praise and appreciation from his neighbors (and a few new repair jobs along the way), he is quick to shy away from acknowledging that what he did was in any way special.
“You would open your doors to anybody who would knock on them if they needed help,” he says. “If you see somebody drowning, wouldn’t you get them a stick or throw them a rope?”
AASP/NJ is encouraging members who have been affected by the storm (and the following week’s Nor’easter) to use the following contacts:
The Hurricane Sandy Information Center:
American Red Cross: website
For those looking to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, AASP/NJ encourages donations to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, P.O. Box 95, Mendham, NJ 07945-0095.