Shelters across Long Island are seeing more visitors today as Hurricane Sandy is forcing residents to evacuate their homes, including those south of Montauk Highway and in beach communities across the Town of Babylon.
More than 550 people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are in shelters as of Monday morning, according to John Miller, Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross on Long Island, said.
There were only a handful of residents at the Robert Frost Middle School (450 Half Hollow Road, Deer Park) shelter as of 10 a.m. Monday, two of which stayed the night.
“It wasn’t bad. It was comfortable,” said Shyquashia Robinson of her first night in the shelter.
Red Cross volunteer, Jami Birkmier, whose mobile home in Bay Shore was evacuated last night, said that while only a few people have come to the Deer Park shelter so far, she hopes more residents will take the storm warnings seriously and evacuate.
“I was living in South Carolina when Hugo hit and was amazed. You don’t know the power of a hurricane until you see a trailer up in a tree or a beach house on top of a car,” she said. “The people I’ve talked to don’t seem to be very worried because Irene wasn’t all that bad. I’m afraid for those people who aren’t leaving. My advice is to get out before you’re too scared to get out.”
The American Red Cross has flown in volunteers from Louisiana and other parts of the country to help with the shelters across Long Island. As the weather takes a turn for the worst tonight, more people are expected to fill the shelters.
One lesson residents have learned from Tropical Storm Irene is to prepare early.
“With this storm, I think people have had enough warning and were able to make arrangements,” Miller said.
The American Red Cross has beds, blankets, food, water, coffee and emergency supplies for visitors. If planning to take advantage of the shelter, Miller suggests bringing some form of entertainment.
“Bring a book or something because we don’t have much of that here, and any comfort items someone might want during the night,” he said.
Anyone planning on utilizing shelters should also bring medications and disposable medical supplies.
The Town has also designated the Babylon Town Hall Annex (281 Phelps Lane in North Babylon) as a place of safe haven. For families with pets, the Brentwood Recreation Center (99 Third Avenue, Brentwood 11717) is a designated pet-friendly shelter.