Hundreds of residents from Coney Island who were evacuated to a high school in Midwood, Brooklyn got a visit from the mayor on Sunday, and maybe who were there expressed gratitude for their shelter from the storm. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, about 500 other people who lived in Coney Island arrived at Roosevelt High School in Midwood, Brooklyn, one of the city's 90-plus evacuation centers set up to respond to Hurricane Irene's fearsome spin.
After the Bloomberg administration's botched blizzard preparation in December, many were bracing for what Irene would bring. But at Roosevelt, Coney Island residents found true refuge from the storm.
"We had nice meals here. It was very helpful. We had a good time here," said an evacuee.
The people at the shelter were fed meatballs for dinner, cereal for breakfast. Children ran up and down the halls and men played cards. Cots spilled into classrooms, each about a foot apart.
The biggest complaint was the heat and 40 fans were promptly dropped off by the Parks Department.
When the National Guard arrived at midnight, they were told they were not needed. The storm on the outside never penetrated the school house walls.
The shelter did run out of cots, but the overflow was quickly transported to a nearby school.
"It's even more wonderful to be out of harm's way. I am glad I am here," said a man at the shelter.
Overall, the Roosevelt experience was a success story, so much so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a surprise visit Sunday morning. He championed the scores of volunteers who manned the food lines and kept a constant stream of movies playing in the school auditorium.
"It gave me a great feeling about New Yorkers. The volunteers, the city employees that came to take care of people who didn't have a place to stay," said the mayor. "People here were very appreciative of everything that everybody was doing for them. They kept saying it was so wonderful."
After 24 hours and a little sleep deprivation, it seemed things ran relatively smoothly here at Roosevelt High. It might have been blustery outside, but it was calm on the inside.