Displaced residents find respite at shelters

li red cross

li red cross

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Terrence Murphy walked out of the American Red Cross shelter at Levittown Memorial High School Thursday to find snow on the curb but sun peeking out of the clouds.

"They're very nice here, but I just need to get out," said Murphy, 56, of Levittown. "It's going on my eighth -- or maybe ninth -- no, it's the eighth day that I've been here."

Murphy was among 1,077 people who planned to sleep last night in one of five Red Cross shelters on Long Island, 10 days after the height of superstorm Sandy.

The Red Cross, anticipating a greater need because of the nor'easter, opened six more shelters on Wednesday, four in Nassau and two in Suffolk. The storm sent more than 100 additional people to the shelters, spokesman Craig Cooper said.

All but one of the added shelters closed by midday Thursday. The shelter at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School was expected to close this morning.

Four Red Cross shelters -- at Nassau Community College, Levittown High School, the Huntington YMCA and St. Joseph's College -- will be open through at least Friday, Cooper said.

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Displaced residents like Murphy, whose home is without electricity and heat, have relied on shelters on-and-off for more than a week. Some said they have projected dates from the Long Island Power Authority on when their electricity may be restored.

Sal Montoro, of the Red Cross' Nassau County chapter, dropped off fresh supplies Thursday at Glen Cove High School for the storm shelter there. Among the materials were packets filled with soap, washcloths and toothbrushes.

Montoro, a disaster response leader, said he expects Red Cross storm shelters in the area to stay open for displaced residents for "at least a couple of weeks."

Some residents are stopping in at the shelters during the day for hot soup or coffee even if they are not sleeping there. They also inquire about applications for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance or other recovery effort information.

Kathryn Meza, 41, of Levittown, told a volunteer that her power might come back by Wednesday. Despite the long wait since the Oct. 29 storm, she beamed with gratitude.

"You have made me sane this week," she told a red-vested volunteer.

For Meza, a nurse, and her three school-age children, the shelter has been a respite. They have been sleeping in their home, and going to various spots during the day to warm up -- including the shelter, the library, the mall and the laundromat.

Meza said she was looking forward to the long weekend -- Veterans Day is Monday -- and the warmer weather that is predicted starting Friday. The family is planning to stay at her cousin's house, one of the lucky homes on Staten Island that came through Sandy unscathed.

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"The kids won't have to be back to school until Tuesday," Meza said. "So we're getting out of Dodge."

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