Western Maryland parishes still recovering from ‘super storm’ Sandy

By Maria Wiering


Twitter: @ReviewWiering

Western Maryland is still recovering the “super storm” that swept through the eastern United States after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29-30. Some parts of Garrett County received more than two feet of snow, and thousands of homes were still without power Nov. 1, according to reports.

Some of the heaviest snowfall was in the county seat of Oakland, about five miles from the West Virginia border. The city has three feet of snow, and 14,000 households remain without power in the county, said Pat Hines, receptionist at St. Peter Parish in Oakland.

Residents have relied on their neighbors, and efforts are underway to move elderly people without power to shelters, Hines said. Although some of the area’s churches have been asked to assist with emergency relief, St. Peter has not, likely because the parish and rectory were without power until Nov. 1, she said.

Hines has lived in Oakland for 20 years, and recalls only one snowstorm as dramatic as the “super storm,” she said.

St. Peter canceled All Saints Day Masses Nov. 1, but weekend Masses are expected to be held as scheduled.

“This has been a rough time in our county due to all the trees and limbs down all over,” Donna Cook, St. Peter’s office manager, told the Catholic Review in an e-mail. “This was a fast coming snow and, with our leaves still on the trees, the weight of this heavy, wet snow brought more power lines and trees down.

“I just know that our parish family has been checking on each other to make sure they have power and food.”

Forty-five miles northeast, in Frostburg, people are also relying on family and neighbors for help, said Sue Gerhard, office assistant at St. Michael, Frostburg.

St. Michael’s parish offices closed for two days, and some parishioners are still without power or water. Father Edward S. Hendricks, St. Michael’s pastor, offered the rectory to staff members who were without power, but no one needed to use it, Gerhard said.

“It’s a neighborly place, and people pitch in with their neighbors,” Gerhard said.

The parish is clustered with St. Ann, Grantsville; St. Peter, Westernport; and St. Joseph, Midland. Father Hendricks is pastor of the four parishes.

St. Ann canceled All Saints Day Masses, but all weekend Masses are expected to be held, Gerhard said.

Bishop Walsh School in Cumberland was without power for most of the week, regaining it late Nov. 1. Classes resumed Nov. 2, but Internet was still unavailable. The storm caused some of the campus’ trees to fall, but school buildings were unaffected, according to a staff member.

The five churches that comprise Our Lady of the Mountains, Cumberland, were unaffected by the storm, its pastor Capuchin Franciscan Father Gregory Chervernak said Oct. 31

Copyright (c) November 2, 2012 CatholicReview.org

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