8:50 p.m., Saturday, August 27
Authorities say there’s still room—and a small window of time before weather conditions worsen—to head to area shelters.
Currently, the American Red Cross has shelters set up at Hampton Bays High School, East Hampton High School, Riverhead High School, and Eastport South Manor Middle and High School.
And while a pet shelter at the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College in Northampton is full, shelters for residents are not, said Craig Cooper, public affairs supervisor for the American Red Cross on Long Island on Saturday night. “I am not aware of any shelters in Suffolk County that have reached capacity,” Mr. Cooper said.
To check if a shelter is at capacity, go to www.redcross.org.
As weather conditions deteriorate, shelters are seeing traffic, Mr. Cooper said. “Right now is when the holdouts are getting in their cars and saying, ‘I’m going to a shelter,’” he said. “Across the board, new people are showing up.”
Most important, Mr. Cooper said, “there’s still time to go to a shelter.” Residents should take heed and head out before Hurricane Irene begins to batter the East End overnight.
Locally, Hampton Bays Union Free School Superintendent Lars Clemensen said that as of approximately 8 p.m., 140 residents have sought shelter at the high school, many from the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. Those at the shelter, Mr. Clemensen said, are “nervous, but they’re happy to be in a safe place.”
Hampton Bays fire department and ambulance volunteers helped to set up cots and blankets, he added. “We’re ready for bed tonight,” Mr. Clemensen said. The American Red Cross, he added, provided displaced residents with a hot meal—and a movie was shown in the auditorium. Mr. Clemensen, who planned to stay at the school, said the plan throughout the night was “to keep people comfortable and calm.” Custodians and security staff are on hand, too.
In East Hampton, interim School Superintendent Richard Burns said when he was last at the high school this afternoon, residents were stopping by to ensure there would be shelter tonight, with “everybody pitching in,” including town employees, to help the Red Cross set up.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said after issuing an order Saturday morning for mandatory evacuation, the day was “orderly and quiet,” with fire department responders going door to door to tell residents to leave for their own safety.
In Flanders, members of the fire department who made the rounds reported about half of those contacted said they planned to leave.
While there was no way to determine how many residents left for homes of family or friends, Ms. Throne-Holst said in addition to those who found shelter at the high school, approximately 35 senior citizens are gathered at the Human Resources Center in Hampton Bays.
She added that while the pet shelter in Northampton is full, the Southampton Town Animal Shelter had “a lighter load than anticipated.”
Ms. Throne-Holst said Southampton roads are quiet, and flooding has commenced; Pike’s Beach in Westhampton, she said, “is completely underwater. And the winds are starting to pick up.”
Mr. Cooper offered other tips, including the advice that residents should stay away from windows, batten down the last bit of lawn furniture, and make sure battery-operated flashlights and radios are close at hand.
The hurricane, he said, “is a test for all of us,” adding that he is proud of Red Cross workers for their efforts.
6:13 p.m., Saturday, August 27
East Hampton Town is offering special help to senior citizens and pets through the storm, in addition to the two shelters the town has set up at East Hampton High School and the Montauk Playhouse Community Center.
The Town Human Services Department is offering emergency shelter to residents who require the use of electronic medical devices and are worried about the power going out. Human Services Director Diane Patrizio said the department’s facility at 128 Springs-Fireplace Road is equipped with 10 cots and a power generator.
Those interested should call 324-6711. Ms. Patrizio added, however, that in many cases it may be more appropriate for a disabled resident to go to Southampton Hospital.
The department is also offering to make check-up calls to senior citizens who are staying at home. Residents who are interested should call the number above.
The town’s Code Enforcement Department is also transporting pets to an emergency animal shelter that has been set up at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in Wainscott, in the hours leading up to the storm.