21 Aug 2014
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UPDATE: Albert Leonard Shelter Closes

The Red Cross said they will be open until the last person gets electricity back.

UPDATE: Albert Leonard Shelter Closes

UPDATE: The Red Cross decided Friday morning to close the shelter at Albert Leonard Middle School effective immediately. Other locations are still open. Go here for more information.

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The Red Cross shelter at Albert Leonard Middle School is still open and serving about 13 clients from New Rochelle and Scarsdale.

Shelter Manager Janice Leham from Greenville, SC, said people are actually beginning to go back to their homes when their power has been restored.

On Thursday, there were about 3,000 New Rochelle households without electricity.

"The numbers are going down," Lehman said. She said the maximum number people housed at the shelter was 84. For Wednesday night, 18 people sought shelter.

Lehman said the Red Cross will operate a shelter as long as it takes to get everyone back in their homes. She said they continue to offer the community hot showers, hot foods, snacks and a place to get warm and charge electronics.

Lehman couldn't say enough good things about the school staff, inciuding Principal Velma Whiteside and district Superintendent Richard Organisciak.

The setup at Albert Leonard is now a little different from when the shelter opened Oct. 28, the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy came barreling through Westchester and the rest of the East Coast.

"When school came back we worked with them to make sure they felt comfortable we were here," Lehman said.

At first, the shelter had the entire wing including the music rooms and the gymnasium.

Classes starting back up required a pull back.

"We chose to remain in the gymnasium," Lehman said. The room was divided in two, providing separate quarters for the kitchen and staff and one for the clients.

She said the clients have almost been like family.

"Some of the ones who were able to go home have come back by for a visit," Lehman said.

And they come away from the experience realizing they may have had misconceptions about the shelter process, she said.

"They are really excited about the services the Red Cross provides," Lehman said.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been coming to the shelter to see if they can be of assistance to the people housed there,  she said.

"They can help them file claims for things other than no power," Lehman said.

For the South Carolina resident, the almost two-week stay in New York has been a real experience.

Lehman got to go down to see the sites in Manhattan on her day off and enjoyed seeing the snow Wednesday.

But the most important thing is the work she has volunteered to do.

"This is just what I do," Lehman said. "I want to be there for the people."

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