More than 930,000 customers on Long Island are without power following the massive storm, as officials assess the damage caused by flooding, downed trees and power lines.
Several areas along Long Island’s shore were part of mandatory evacuation zones, and several shelters are open in Nassau and Suffolk counties for residents who need them.
One of those shelters, Nassau Community College in Uniondale, was quickly filling up on Tuesday, following the worst of the storm. A Red Cross volunteer said the shelter housed 575 people on Monday night, and expected to double that number by Tuesday night as evacuees filed in after the storm hit.
Red Cross spokesman Steve Bayer came in from Florida to help out with relief efforts. He said evacuees are registered, given a cot and a blanket and are set up in the large gymnasium.
Several people at the center on Tuesday said they’d tried to wait out the storm, having experienced Tropical Storm Irene, but they woke up to damage worse than they’d imagined. Some were asked to evacuate by the county, and others by the National Guard.
“It’s just unbelievable devastation,” said Pat Constantino, a Lido Beach resident who was evacuated after the storm. “This was the storm of the century.”
“It looks like the world ended,” she said. “We had dunes, most of our dunes are gone. Our whole back of our building is covered in sand. Our parking lots are covered in sand…every car in the parking lot floated.”
Crystal Lynch, in nearby Long Beach, also experienced flooding in her apartment complex. She said she lives close to the bay, which met the ocean during the storm. “We got, like, both ends coming in,” she said.
There will certainly be substantial cleanup needed in those areas, and for many at the shelter, it’ll be a day-to-day wait to find out when they can return to their homes.
Linda Minerva, also from Lido Beach, put things into perspective, after being evacuated on Tuesday.
“It was a terrible thing, but we’re all safe and people are alive,” she said. “It’s things and buildings…we can replace those things but we can’t replace lives.”