Taking on the Storm: Getting Ready for Snow, Heavy Winds

Hurricane Sandy relief volunteer Byron Corley, of Union City, gives us another day-to-day glimpse of the storm’s aftermath.

Tri-Cities residents Byron and Beatriz Corley, of Union City, are among the thousands of Red Cross volunteers helping with relief efforts on the east coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Read their previous guest columns here.

Nov. 6, 2012

Very little new to report as we have settled into a routine of 12-hour shifts and are getting used to sleeping on cots. The food continues to be good and served by local volunteers who work tirelessly. The local stores, restaurants, private citizens and cash donors make the food available in the cafeteria and it is always hot.

Some clients are leaving but others appear to take their place. We have more families with kids now and locals have donated kids toys, books, coloring books and crayons, etc. Most kids seem happy and look on the whole situation as an adventure. A few that have absorbed the idea that their house is lost or needing repair are not so carefree and happy.

Little Jack showed up yesterday and I had the job of showing him around the showers, bathrooms and how it all works. He must be about 9 or 10 years old but I have not asked. We are now buddies and we talk a lot and he is delighted that he can pronounce my name properly instead of calling me Brian. His parents are nice folks and their house will need extensive repairs that will not be attended to for months.  Jack and I will be acquainted until I leave in about 10 days.

FEMA reps are on site and have set up a table in the cafeteria. They have all the latest gizmos and do not have to worry about internet connectivity. The local cell tower that serves us for phone and internet service has been unreliable in the past but is improving. We are trying to get the school to let us use their internet wireless but since they have it firewalled to control student access, it has been useless for our usage. The school folks are trying to get the IT man to come up and help.

As I was writing this message, a school official showed up and helped us get through their firewall. We are almost jubilant because the school wireless is everywhere and fast. No more outages or weak signals.

The talk today is about the Northeast storm coming up the coast and the rain and high tides. I checked the NWS site for Highlands, NJ and it said we would have 8 to 8.5 foot high tides. That is high enough to flood the downtown area but will probably not cause additional damage.

More later.

Nov. 7, 2012

We have over 100 clients in the shelter now but since they can roam as they please we won't have an accurate count until after midnight when they are all in their cots. Food, water, toiletries, pet supplies, etc. are in good supply so we are fine. We have electricity back but they have the generator on because of the storm coming through.

We have 35 to 45 mph winds with gusts to 65 mph. It has been snowing for about three hours and now that it is dark, it is not melting anymore. We also will have very high tides so we may get more folks later tonight because of flooding.

Lots of kids now and we have set up a screen and DVD player for the kids to watch movies in the cafeteria. Still no T-V to watch. The internet is our sole source of news and info. We have 5 dogs and one, a small Yorkie, is a therapy dog. The kids love her because she is very small, one year old and very friendly.

Bea is very busy working as an interpreter for the Spanish-speaking clients but most of their kids speak English very well. The parents still want a translator for clarity and authority, or at least that's my take on it.

I had to go outside to do some chores and saw that we have about two inches of snow on the ground and it's still snowing hard. Of course Bea and I have no cold weather clothes or proper shoes. It’s gonna get interesting!

The shelter always has at least one policeman and one EMT, and the Red Cross
has at least one nurse. We are lucky that we have three volunteer nurses here and they are professional and tireless. The surrounding community and businesses are overwhelming with their generosity and we are swimming in donated goods of every sort. All the food that the cafeteria serves is still from donations and only specialty items have been purchased.


Byron and Beatriz

For local, up-to-the-minute coverage of Hurricane Sandy, visit www.patch.com for affiliate sites on the east coast.

To make a donation and help support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross Chapters.

For more information on how you can help, visit

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