The American Red Cross shelter at Whitman High School in Huntington Station was serene Wednesday as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stopped in to greet the staff.
It was lunch time and volunteers from as far afield as Michigan and Texas served the approximately 40 evacuees still staying in the high school gym. Bellone used the moment to transition the Red Cross effort to the next phase, two days after Hurricane Sandy swept through Long Island.
“We are in the process of phasing out shelters, but it will be on an as-needed basis,” Bellone said. “It’s getting cooler outside and depending on the length of this recovery effort and depending on the weather, the need for shelter space could go on for an extended period.”
Bellone said shelters in Riverhead and Hampton Bays closed Wednesday.
John Miller, Chief Executive Officer for Long Island Red Cross, said the organization housed 2,000 people in 20 shelters throughout Long Island during the height of the storm. He said nearly 1,700 are still in shelters.
The Red Cross and county will make the evaluation on the next step.
Starting Thursday, the Red Cross will set up meal distribution centers in Suffolk, at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge and the Riverhead County Center in Riverhead.
And for those without power, county-run charging stations will also open Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at three locations: Dennison Building in Hauppauge, Riverhead County Center and Suffolk County offices, C14 in Yaphank.