New Rochelle was blanketed in darkness by Hurricane Sandy Monday. Residents were without power, street lights went out and the New Rochelle Fire Department was responding to emergency calls into the night.
Chief Louis DiMeglio said there were about 200 calls the fire Department responded to during the night, and because of the overwhelming number of incidents he does not have all the details to each event. But he said most of the calls were a result of fallen trees and power lines, trees falling on roofs and flooding.
No firefighters were injured, he said, but a couple people were taken to Sound Shore Medical Center for cuts and bruises after a window blew in at the Radisson Hotel New Rochelle on Huguenot Street.
A telephone pole at the intersection of Pinebrook Boulevard and Beechmont Drive by Beechmont lake split in half, sparks from the power lines zapped in the street. An uprooted tree at that intersection cut off fire trucks’ route to North Avenue coming from Pinebrook Boulevard.
“There were many paths blocked off,” said Chief DiMeglio. “All over the city there were trees and lines down that impeded on our ability to get to places in a timely manner.”
Branches and trees lie in the street and were littered all over the front lawn of a house on Pell Place and an uprooted tree’s branches were entangled in power lines on Pinebrook Boulevard, threatening to pull the lines down.
But one place in the city where safety was assured was at Albert Leonard Middle School at 25 Gerarda Ln. The American Red Cross has set up a shelter on Oct. 28, and they will remain there until everyone returns home.
“We are offering shelter, warmth, food, personal hygiene packs, blankets, pillows, cots to sleep and safety,” said Red Cross manager Janice Lehman. Showers are also available.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] will be around to help people financially whose homes were damaged by flooding or fallen trees.
As of 6 p.m. on Oct. 29, eight people have already taken advantage of the protection. Many are here because of flooding, or they fear old trees will cause damage to their homes, said Lehman. But she said she expects many more will come in Tuesday. When more people arrive, Lehman said, they will increase their eight-person staff so they can take care of each person and make sure all their needs are met.
For those with children, there are activities such as basketball in the gym, games, coloring books and cards to keep them entertained, Lehman said.
New Rochelle resident Lily Darden brought her four grandchildren—Noah, 12, Solomon, 9, Joshua, 10, and Malik, 9—to the shelter because she was worried about the old trees near her home.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with this hurricane [as opposed to last year’s Hurricane Irene] and that leaves me very concerned,” said Darden. “But [the children] like it here. They have fun playing basketball and the people are very hospitable, very nice. I feel protected here."