New Jerseyans flock to bars after Sandy keeps them indoors

Sun Nov 4, 2012 6:57pm EST
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By Philip Barbara

NEPTUNE CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - One Jersey Shore woman said she felt claustrophobic at home, a man said he suffered cabin fever while said they were sure they were going "stir crazy." Many people shut in by superstorm Sandy broke the monotony Sunday by taking to a cozy barstool with a drink in hand.

Since Monday night at 8:15 p.m., when the storm knocked out power, Paulette Balla had been forced to sit at home in Asbury Park in the darkness wearing "a hoodie, a sweatshirt, a pair of gloves" and swaddled in two blankets to stay warm, she said. The only time she ventured out before Sunday was to hunt for gasoline.

But as she sat at the crowded bar at Clancy's Tavern in Neptune City and enjoyed the heated room and the glow from her friends' faces, the hardship the storm had forced on her was gone.

"This is like heaven," said Balla, 60. "It is great to be out. I felt claustrophobic at home."

The inability to fire up the furnace as the nights grew colder last week was very difficult to take. "I have been using hot tap water for my tea. It didn't really make it," she said.

People along the East Coast and especially New Jersey have had to face unaccustomed privation - little to no hot food, showers, cable TV, electricity and Internet.

Steve McLaughlin, 59, of Avon, said he loves his mother in law "dearly." The 87-year-old woman had recently moved into a nearby apartment, but when Sandy knocked out her heat, he and his wife took her in and sat her in front of the fireplace in their living room.

"I've had no TV, Internet and heat. I have experienced cabin fever with my mother in law in the cabin," he said as he sat at the bar at Darcy's Tavern in Bradley Beach. After a pause he diplomatically continued: "But I do love her dearly."   Continued...