Atlantic County shelters in Pleasantville and Buena were caught in the transition from pre- to post-storm evacuees on Tuesday. The shelter in Buena received a number of Margate residents following the storm, Mayor Mike Becker said.
Carol Cohen, executive director of the Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the shelters in Pleasantville made it through the storm without any major problems.
Between 375 and 400 people remained at the Pleasantville high school and middle school on Mill Road Tuesday afternoon. Those locations never lost power. The cable went out briefly Monday but retained quickly, Cohen said.
"At this point, we are just waiting for damage assessment before figuring out what our next step will be," Cohen said in a phone interview, noting she had just awakened from the first hours of sleep she had in days.
The Pleasantville shelters were over their maximum capacity, but Cohen encouraged anyone who needed help to call the Red Cross.
"Obviously, if anybody needs help, we'll find a place for them," she said.
At Pleasantville High School, weary evacuees stood outside for a bit of fresh air while others watched Sandy coverage on a TV inside. Most did not want to talk about the situation, though a few opened up.
“I came Monday,” said Yvonne Smith, of Southhampton Court in Pleasantville. “I came Monday, because my street had flooded. Then the water went down, and they were talking about another flood.”
Smith called a neighbor, who said they could return. “I’m just waiting for them to come by and pick us up,” she said.
For Richard Bolinger, of Somers Point, the stay at the shelter wasn’t fun.
“I had no choice. It was simple as that,” he said when asked his reason for coming to the shelter.
When could he leave?
“God, hopefully soon,” he said.
Red Cross veterans such as Joseph Cendrowski, of Egg Harbor Township, and newbies such as Ava Qim, of Absecon, manned stations and did their rounds.
“Everything has been running basically pretty smooth,” Cendrowski said. “But with 400-some people, there tend to be a few glitches.”
The shelter has been shifting into an evacuation shelter, for people “who decided to stay behind and had to be rescued,” Cendrowski said. “They actually have no place to go.”
Red Cross volunteer Brenda Ball, of Egg Harbor Township, added, “I know quite a few (Red Cross volunteers) affected by it, and this is how they keep occupied. As they keep working, it keeps the mind off their family.”
Pleasantville schools Superintendent Garnell Bailey, said, “District employees, custodians, staff, everyone is working together to make sure it’s a seamless, safe process. ... People have bought clothes, food – you just couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Evacuees trickled in, and out of emergency shelters Tuesday as the impact of Hurricane Sandy continued to affect area residents.
Buena Regional High School still had ample space but Red Cross workers were still expecting buses from the greater Atlantic City area.
About 20 new evacuees had come in by 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, most from the Atlantic City and Ventnor area brought in on small buses..
Some had planned to stay, but the storm changed their plans.
Edmund Januszcka, Helene Cinquino, Lorraine Halloran, and Joe O’Neal planned to remain at the Longport Seaview Condominium. But when a transformer blew nearby, they were evacuated to the Jewish Community Center in Margate.
“The fire department came and rescued us,” Januszcka said as the group ate sandwiches at Buena Regional High School. He said he’d stayed put for many storms over the last 30 years and was prepared for the power to go out, just not in such a dramatic and potentially dangerous way.
Red Cross site manager Teena Draper said some local residents had come to the high school on their own Monday, but returned home Tuesday.
About 20 new evacuees had come in by 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, most from the Atlantic City and Ventnor area brought in on small buses. More were expected.
With school closed, several local high school students came in to volunteer. Kishaun Branch, 15, from the Richland section of Buena Vista Township said he heard about volunteering at church Sunday. He spent Tuesday helping pets and people get settled in at the high school.
“I just thought it was my duty to help,” he said.
Linda Bowden, her husband, two sons and two dogs, arrived from Mays Landing Tuesday afternoon in their large SUV after the rental home in Mays Landing they had moved into just three days ago was flooded Monday night.
“Water just started coming in,” she said. “We slept in the car. The owner said the house had never flooded before.”
In Cape May County, spokeswoman Lenora Boninfante said that two of the three shelters remained open, at the Upper Township Middle School and Woodbine Developmental Center.
Tuesday night, about 250 people remained there from the height of about 650 on Monday night during the storm.
Unlike in Atlantic County, no one was being taken from emergency shelters on the barrier islands to the mainland shelters, Boninfante said.
If those schools reopen, she said, “the county is looking to see if other locations are open. … But people who need shelter should call local responders first.”
Staff writers Jennifer Bogdan and Diane D'Amico contributed to this report.