Oldest Sandy victim, Celestina Kreitzer, remembered on storm's anniversary

Celestina Kreitzer, called Celeste for short, was generous and kind, but also stubborn.

Celestina Kreitzer, called Celeste for short, was generous and kind, but also stubborn. (10/25/13)

LACEY TOWNSHIP - Of the many lessons learned almost a year after Sandy struck, one of the most significant is heading evacuation orders.

In New Jersey, there were 40 deaths as a result of Sandy, including many drownings and cases of hypothermia.

Barbara Chanti says her best friend refused to leave her Lacey home along the Forked River. Celestina Kreitzer, called Celeste for short, was generous and kind, but also stubborn.

"She was like my mother. My children idolized her like she was their grandmother," Chanti says. "She wouldn't leave. She would never leave and she just tried to do everything herself, her way and that's what she did."

The 94-year-old had travelled the world and endured many storms in her home on Oakwood Drive, and wanted to ride this storm out, too, despite the mandatory evacuation and police in the streets on bullhorns urging people to get out.

Kreitzer was found the next day dead inside her home. She was sitting in the cold floodwaters on her couch.

Officials say Kreitzer died of hypothermia. Her low-lying home had filled with 2-3 feet of water.

"It was cruel. She didn't deserve it at all," Chanti says. "She was such a good person."

Chanti says she wants others to learn from this tragedy, and says others should evacuate when they are told to do so.

Kreitzer, who was married to an Air Force colonel and never had children, was the oldest person to die as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
 

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