Charles Judware came home to his Bank Street apartment this morning to find that it was an early victim of Hurricane Sandy's winds. A tree branch had crashed through the window and was taking up a good portion of the residence.
Judware, who has lived in New London for about a month, informed his landlord, got a bag of clothes from the closet, and made his way to the Winthrop School. He worried that the wind and rain will likely ruin the rest of his apartment and belongings, but for now he is riding out the storm in the shelter the Red Cross has set up at the school.
“Normally the weather that sucks and is bad doesn’t do much damage,” said Judware. “I’ve never really lived near the ocean, so maybe that’s part of it.”
Norma Pabon, the shelter manager, said the Winthrop School shelter is the only one in New London. If it reaches its capacity of 200 people, residents will be directed to an alternate shelter at East Lyme Middle School. It opened at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“It’s been steady,” Pabon said. “We got the first customer at 8 p.m. last night.”
The Winthrop School—which opened midway through the 2011-2012 school year as a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics magnet elementary school—replaces the Senior Center as the location for the Red Cross Shelter. Pabon said it includes a number of advantages including a more elevated location, better generator, and more space.
Pabon said about 30 people had arrived at the shelter as of 10 a.m. this morning. She said they included both people who were under a mandatory evacuation order and people who thought the shelter would be a safe place.
At about 3 p.m., city transportation to the shelter was suspended after it was considered too risky to go out in the weather conditions. There were 38 people at the shelter at that time.
Marie Hector, who arrived on Sunday evening, said she lives on Shaw Street and realized she was in the evacuation zone. She said TV and Internet are not available to follow the news, so she is waiting until she hears it is safe to return to her home.
“People are still coming,” said Hector. “Better safe than sorry.”
Juel Harris came to the shelter this morning with two children. She said she is in the process of moving from Montauk Ave. to Washaw Place and was concerned about the effect the hurricane would have.
“I just wish the rest of the family would come,” she said. “They don’t want to leave the house behind.”
If you go:
- Cots are provided along with snacks and drinks. The shelter will also be using the school’s cafeteria to prepare meals.
- Bring blankets, pillows, medication, and other personal care items.
- Be prepared to fill out a registration form on matters such as health issues. A nurse is available at the shelter.
- Abide by the shelter’s rules, which prohibit pets, drugs, alcohol, and weapons. Residents using the shelter must also respect quiet hours and only smoke in designated areas.
- The regional center, which allows pets, is at East Lyme Middle School on Society Road in Niantic. For questions about that, contact East Lyme Emergency Management at 860-739-4434.
- Call 860-440-6687 for more information about the New London shelter.