Wednesday, October 31, 2012
By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Spending part or all of Monday night in a shelter helped some local residents avoid the consequences of a sudden power.
Ulster County Emergency Management officials reported a total of 31 people stayed in 11 shelters Monday night and that only the shelter at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount would remain open for a second evening.
There was some disagreement over how many people used shelters as Hurricane Sandy came through. The county reported only six people were staying at the Andy Murphy Midtown Neighborhood Center in Kingston Monday night, but the Red Cross said just after midnight that 12 people were staying there. Another two people arrived sometime later.
“Most of the people were from the (East Strand) area,” daytime shelter Supervisor Joe DeVito said, referring to the flood-prone road in Downtown Kingston. “They were here because of water and power outages, but some were here because they were worried about power outages and they had breathing equipment that they depended on.”
Also not included in the county’s tally were two people who took advantage of the shelter in the Rosendale Community Center. The Maryland couple, which had been staying at the Creekside campground, came to the community center on state Route 32 after hearing trees snap during high winds.
“I’m looking at these trees and thinking, ‘Am I really going to be able to avoid that?’” David Grant said.
Grant and his wife ultimately slept in their camper in the community center parking lot.
The Rosendale shelter was overseen by Jill Lafera and Tom Fiore, who said preparations were made based on lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
“Seeing what happened and the extent of need, we started meeting last Wednesday,” Lafera said.
The Saugerties shelter, at the Frank Greco Senior Citizens Center, had two people stay overnight. Lighthouse Drive resident Corliss Block was the first to arrive after warnings were issued that the Lower Esopus Creek was expected to top flood stage by 6 feet.
Block initially planned to wait out the rising water and had taken her car to higher ground, but she said police convinced her to go to the shelter.
“I’ve got my book to read, my laptop with free Wi-Fi, The New York Times and don’t have to worry about whether I’m going to lose electric,” she said. “Yes, it was a good idea.”