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Fire Island residents vote in Bay Shore

Tekla Vanderblas evacuated Fire Island more than a week ago before superstorm Sandy hit, decimating the storied beach community. On Election Day, she was at Bay Shore Middle School working as a Republican election judge, ensuring her neighbors could exercise their right, while earning some much needed money.

“I’m so underemployed,” said the 57-year-old artist. “I’m glad to have a day of work.”

She hasn’t been back to Ocean Beach, the Fire Island village where she lives, but is hopeful her house survived. She’s staying in the Bronx with friends until she gets word from officials that it’s safe to return.

Vanderblas, who left her car parked in Brightwaters to conserve gas, traveled from the Bronx via two buses and the Long Island Rail Road, and when she got to the Babylon station, she took another bus to get her car and then drove to the polling place.

With most of Fire Island decimated after Sandy, the beach community’s Ocean Beach polling place was moved to Bay Shore Middle School, where about 54 Fire Island residents had voted by 11:30 a.m., she said.

“It’s been very steady,” she said.

Carl Dahl lives on the Kismet section of Fire Island, a place he hasn’t been since he evacuated the day before Sandy struck.

“I’m going back tomorrow,” he said, after casting his ballot for Republican Mitt Romney at Bay Shore Middle School. “It seems to be OK.”

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