Nearly a dozen elderly residents remained in a shelter Sunday after they were evacuated from their homes in an Elmont co-op Friday due to flooding, disaster relief officials said.
The seniors were being sheltered at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, sleeping on green cots spread out on the school’s basketball court and eating meals provided by the American Red Cross. A few had suitcases near their beds and some had clothing kept in black trash bags given to them by volunteers.
Jan Thompson, 86, said she’s grateful for the help from the Red Cross but the cot was so uncomfortable that she barely slept on the first night. She got some sleep Saturday night with extra blankets as cushions.
“At least we're inside,” Thompson said Sunday in the school hallway, which became part of the makeshift shelter. “There are people who are outside on the streets or whatever. And I'm grateful that we've been saved from having … no place to be.”
Thompson was one of 11 residents from a co-op on Foster Meadow Lane staying at the shelter Sunday, said Jose Dominguez, CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island.
The number of people in the shelter dwindled from around 50 Friday night after residents from another housing complex returned to their building and some left to stay with family or friends, he said.
All of the displaced residents of the nearby Westover Gardens complex in Elmont returned to their homes around 3 p.m. Saturday, said Hempstead Town spokesman Casey Sammon.
The Foster Meadow complex is an individually owned co-op community run by Woods and Ruff Management in Manhattan, Sammon said.
“It is our understanding that the management of the building had said the damage to their electrical system is extensive, and they expect a full report from the electricians tomorrow, although they also said it will likely be a couple of weeks before residents are allowed to return,” Sammon said. “The Town of Hempstead Building Department is helping every step of the way to ensure a safe return.”
Efforts to reach the management company Sunday were not successful. The residents will be able to continue using the gym as a shelter even after school opens on Monday, Dominguez said.
No one was at Foster Meadow on Sunday afternoon, except for a code enforcement worker taking out trash. The front entrance was locked and plastered with notices from Hempstead Town that said the structure is “unfit for human occupancy” and warned people from entering.
Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) noted the area was prone to flooding.
“This is not the first time that area has flooded,” she said at the shelter Sunday. “The evacuation of up to 200 people in that area is a traumatic event. And it's a reoccurring event for some of these individuals.”
Some of the residents sold their homes to come to this property, Solages said.
“They are troubled because their investment is in danger now and they feel upset,” she said.
For Thompson, things improved a little by Sunday. During the evacuation, she rushed out of her apartment and didn’t bring all her medications. She returned Saturday to get the rest when the building was open for a half-hour so residents could retrieve some essentials.
But she would like to go home.
She would like “to get back to my apartment with stability, knowing that hopefully this doesn't happen again and hopefully that it is going to be stable every night,” she said.