Many in region still finding refuge in Red Cross shelters

New London resident Melanie Jacobs was spending another day away from home Thursday.

In the midst of Hurricane Sandy, a tree had hit the back of her house, taking out her power and leaking water into her son's bedroom. She took shelter at Winthrop Elementary School but had to relocate to East Lyme due to a generator issue at Winthrop.

Now, it was time to move yet again to a new location, as the 21 or so people still at the regional shelter at East Lyme Middle School were relocated to the community center, just up the street. The schools are preparing to reopen for when power is restored.

The American Red Cross regional emergency shelters in East Lyme and Groton opened Thursday in new locations, in Groton's case because of the cold weather expected that night.

The East Lyme shelter serves Montville, Waterford, New London, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme. 

The regional shelter "is still in operation and a decision will be made tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon on whether to continue,” East Lyme Emergency Management Director Dick Morris said.

The Groton shelter, formerly at Robert E. Fitch Senior High School, is now at the Groton Senior Center and serves residents of Groton, Ledyard, Stonington and North Stonington.

Odilia Virgin of Niantic said she'd been spending her days at the shelter chatting and sharing newspapers and magazines with people she met there.

"We've become fast friends," she said.

This is her first year going to a shelter, and she commended the Red Cross for showers, meals and assistance. But as nice as it's been at the shelter, she said she'll be grateful when she can finally return home.

Sue Rochester-Bolen, senior director of emergency services for the Red Cross, said the organization continues to seek volunteers for help with the storm's aftermath. Those interested should call (860) 447-3249.

Staff writers Julianne Hanckel and Greg Smith contributed to this report.

k.drelich@theday.com

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