Richmond has opened shelters on both sides of the city to make sure people have somewhere to go in the event of widespread power outages. While the storm was just getting underway Sunday night, some people had already moved in.
Linwood Holton Elementary serves as the shelter on the north side and Blackwell Elementary is serving as a safe haven for those living on the Southside. Sunday, only a handful of people spent the night away from their homes.
Fear ran through Evelyn Blakey's mind as she thought of the worst case scenario if she had stayed at home to ride out Sandy's wrath.
"Gee, I think it would be absolutely dangerous for me to remain alone with no one to assist me in what may come to pass and that is like they say on TV 'I fell down and I couldn't get up,'" she said.
The city's announcement of a shelter opening at Linwood Holton brought relief.
"I had somewhere to go, that I was no longer alone, that someone was looking out for me, that someone cared for me and that someone was going to take care of me," Blakey said.
Like many Richmonders, Evelyn has some health issues. At 79 and living alone in a home that often loses power in storms, she needs some help.
"It's just like a home away from home," she added. "They have everything. They're ready. They're prepared. They're experts!"
Most of the staff at the shelters are trained social workers but there are also mental health counselors and folks from the health department in case any of those needs should arise, as well.
Director of Richmond Social Services Doris Moseley says as long as people bring medications, medical supplies and other special items to the shelter, her staff are ready to care.
"We just try to reassure them that we're here to serve them," she explained. "If they have any needs while they're in the shelter, we'll do our best to accommodate those needs."
Service animals are welcome, but you cannot bring your pets.
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