The northeastern United States double-dipped on weather chaos this week. The state of New Jersey, for example, was hit by an enormous wind event last Friday — then took an extra wallop on top of that, courtesy of winter storm Quinn yesterday.
Some counties in the Garden State are still struggling to recover. Many folks remained in the dark on Thursday, having lost power when the first storm hit.
For Andrew Van Jura IV, owner of the family-run Quality Comfort Heating and Cooling business in Somerville, New Jersey, the decision to lend a hand was automatic. When he saw the overwhelming hardships some fellow residents were facing, he didn’t hesitate to take action.
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“Because of the unfortunate situation [put] on the community, between losing power and going through another storm … I am providing free labor to repair anyone’s gas/propane furnace that breaks as a result of the power outage and surge. I believe in helping my community in need and it’s my pleasure,” Van Jura shared on a community Facebook group page the day before the winter storm hit. “I will get your family through it [by] helping with damage control,” he added.
The offer does have some limits. The cost of parts is the customer’s responsibility. For people who need replacements, Van Jura is working on a case-by-case basis.
The response to his offer has been “tremendously positive,” he said in an interview with LifeZette. “Many have called for advice questions,” he added, while others need “urgent repair service. I have wired a lot of people’s furnaces from portable generators, fixed broken units from the power surges, and extended phone support.”
Jenni Morenius of Califon was one of the grateful recipients of Van Jura’s generosity. Morenius lost power last Friday, and by Tuesday, it was cold enough in her home that she decided she’d better buy a generator.
“On his way home from work, he stopped at my house while I was at work and hardwired the generator to my furnace for me,” Morenius said. “He also left me some extension cords so I could run my fridge and a small light. After I got my power back, he again came back and helped me take the generator off the furnace and also moved the generator from outside in to the garage for me.”
She added, “He also at one point helped me get a propane delivery when I had run out of it and no other company ‘had the time to come out,'” she said. “He’s been very helpful.”
As folks in the Northeast shovel out and assess the damage, business owners and community members like Van Jura offer a ray of hope.
Community service is nothing new for Van Jura. He is an active member of the Somerville Elks Club — the American fraternal order was originally founded in 1868, with a focus on outreach to others and fundraising for good causes — and he’s been looking for ways to help children with special needs. He’s also committed to seeking donations to help with cancer research.
Andrew Van Jura IV was encouraged to start the business by his late father, Andrew Van Jura III, who passed last November. The small-business owner hopes to pass his business and work ethic down to his four children, ages 14 to two.
As folks in the Northeast shovel out and assess the damage, business owners and community members like Van Jura offer a ray of hope. When communities all pull together — they get through it together.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.