ROANOKE, Va. - Erin Hutchinson watched in horror when Hurricane Sandy battered New Jersey and New York. Then the quilter sprang into action.
Hutchinson appealed to fellow quilters worldwide and colorful squares of cloth started to arrive at her home in Vesuvius, a Rockbridge County community north of Lexington.
By Christmas, Hutchinson had received more than 1,400 quilt squares sent from across the U.S., but also from as far away as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The Rockbridge Pieceworkers Quilt Guild helped stitch the squares together in quilts that are about 72 by 84 inches, large enough to cover a double bed.
That's the way quilters are, she said. "Every time something happens, quilters come together," Hutchinson told The Roanoke Times.
Hutchinson is an admissions official at Washington and Lee University, where her husband, Adam Hutchinson, is the basketball coach.
The two, however, have strong ties to New Jersey and the New York area. Her first date with her husband was on the Jersey Shore. She lived in Hoboken, worked in New York and had family in Newark.
"All these places that played such a significant role in my past were cold and dark and underwater," Hutchinson wrote in her blog. She decided, "I can't sit by and do nothing."
She invited her readers to send her quilt squares. She expected that the 130 or so readers of her blog would perhaps send 80 squares, about enough for two 42-square quilts.
But the quilting call went viral.
"The Internet is an amazing thing," Hutchinson said. "You think nobody reads it, but they do."