A portion of Long Island, NY is shown during a Coast Guard flyover after Hurricane Sandy. (Photo By Flickr user DVIDSHUB)
By Paul Morello
OLD WESTBURY, NY - A local Red Cross volunteer is getting a first-hand look at the damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Bloomington-native Emily Barr is in Old Westbury, New York, a town on the northern shore of Long Island.
She said Wednesday there are 150 people at the State University of New York shelter she's working at, and 200 more are expected in the next few days.
"This is one of the highly-affected areas in Long Island. There are thousands of trees down, smashed light poles, fences and just a lot of debris everywhere," she said.
Barr is a disaster mental health worker. She said there's no panic at the shelter yet, but a sense of "high anxiety," because people have been told they can't go home due to the unsafe conditions.
"All these people were bused in here and are now homeless, because their apartment building or the area they lived in is gone," she said.
There is still no power at the shelter. When the storm hit, 8 million customers were without power. That number has since dropped to about 6 million. Barr said she's just trying to keep morale up.
"I'm trying to offer any kind of information, comfort or support that people might need to help them deal with the situation," she said.
Barr is just one local volunteer to help in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Jack Montgomery of Fairbury and Janet Bremner of Mackinaw have been deployed to Albany, NY for mass care and sheltering. Vickie Eckhardt of Normal and Janice Miller of Clinton are in Middletown, NY for emergency response and feeding.
Four more local Red Cross volunteers will be heading to the East Coast Thursday, including Sue Kiley of Bloomington, Norma Pilkington of Bloomington, Robert Walter of Fairbury and Michael McKnight of Normal.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.