In Storm-Drenched New Jersey, A Fight For Ice

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After a major storm, ice becomes a precious commodity. Host Scott Simon talks with Joe Romano, owner of Sea Isle Ice Company in Sea Isle City, N.J., about how the company is getting ice to people in need.


In the aftermath of giant storms and during long power outages, common things can become precious commodities, things like gasoline, fresh milk and ice.

JOE ROMANO: Well, they need it for their perishable foods and also one thing that people don't keep in mind is medicine has to be refrigerated.

SIMON: That's Joe Romano who owns and operates the Sea Isle Ice Company in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. Milk and medicines, like insulins must be kept cool and when electricity is out and refrigerators are dark, people need ice. Joe Romano's ice company is on a barrier island south of Atlantic City.

ROMANO: Our area was hit very hard; high winds, a surge that came in and devastated a lot of the homes along the shore.

SIMON: But the water stopped just short, just inches from flooding his ice factory. And now...

ROMANO: Right now, we're up and running at 100 percent.

SIMON: Which means he and his drivers are out delivering ice.

ROMANO: And as soon as the stores open up, as soon as you bring the ice in there, people are practically fighting to get the ice.

SIMON: Joe Romano's trucks to their best to make their way around roads closed by downed trees, power lines and roads that have effectively become sand dunes. And ice has become so hard to come by in parts of New Jersey that others are finding their way to Joe Romano's shop.

ROMANO: And we've had a lot of tractor trailers coming to our location and bringing it to the northern part of New Jersey.

SIMON: He's sending bags of ice as far away as Long Island. You see, Joe Romano and a fellow distributor in Long Island made a pact just before Superstorm Sandy. If one of them was hit hard, the other would do what they could to help. So, Joe Romano is.

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