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Hurricane Sandy had impact beyond the East Coast

Judy Rusch of Sweet Greetings said Hurricane Sandy has wiped out one of her suppliers and caused major delays for several others. It's required her to look elsewhere for specialty chocolates, gift baskets and wrapping paper.

As Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast, Judy Rusch monitored the storm from her New Richmond home. Rusch's daughter lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Rusch, the owner of Sweet Greetings in New Richmond, said a few days after the storm hit, she was reading an article about a Minnesota-based company that was having trouble receiving shipments from the East Coast.

"I thought that was interesting," she said. "You don't think of how it will affect us here."

A few days later, Rusch said she was getting frustrated because some of her scheduled shipments hadn't arrived.

"My husband asked me where they were coming from and that's when I realized they were coming from the East Coast," she said.

In all, six of the companies Rusch uses to supply her downtown candy store were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

"One of them, the company that supplies my seasonal chocolates, was totally destroyed," she said.

The hurricane has really set Rusch back, she said.

"I've had to push back getting ready for the holidays," she said. "And there are some items that I just won't be getting."

Those items include her popular chocolate covered blueberries and chocolate covered cherries, she said.

"I've been scrambling to find other suppliers but that's what everyone is doing, so there's a shortage of some of these items," she said.

In addition to the chocolates, Rusch said the company she uses to supply her gift baskets and wrapping paper is also an East Coast company.

"If you think about it, a lot of this industry is on the East Coast," she said.

In addition to the suppliers and manufacturers she uses, Rusch said many of the East Coast caves have flooded, causing headaches for those growing button mushrooms and those aging cheese and wine.

Rusch said that while there are items she won't be able to get this year, she has been able to find suppliers for many of her items.

"I still have a lot of stuff in here," she said. "I've just had to scramble to get it."

At First National Community Bank, a service center in Lyndhurst, N.J. is used to process transactions made in person or through the mail. According to a letter to bank customers, the service center was in the process of implementing a contingency plan when a levy failed and forced employees to evacuate the building sooner than anticipated.

"Due to circumstances out of our control, transactions that were presented between 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, and Friday, Nov. 2, have been delayed for posting to your accounts," wrote President Thomas Mews.

The letter went on to assure customers that all transactions remain secure, confidential and will be posted accurately.

The hiccup at First National Community Bank also caused problems at Somerset School District, said Randy Rosburg, district administrator for Somerset School District.

"It had a slight impact on our payroll," he said. "It was supposed to go out in the morning, but because First National Community Bank outsources some of their transactions, it was delayed a day."

Rosburg said any overcharges that resulted from the delay were made right and forgiven by First National Community Bank.

"People don't realize it's not just people losing their homes," Rusch said. "It's a lot of industry."