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Red Cross Shelter in Elmira

Red Cross Shelter in Elmira

Elmira (WENY) -- Bryon Hostrander and his wife were forced to stay at the Red Cross shelter last night at Elmira Free Academy.

"My wife is handicapped," said Hostrander. "She's in a wheelchair, so some place for her to go is great, you know. It's definitely a blessing."

They live at St. Joseph's Apartments in Elmira where the storm blew in windows, demolished cement walls, snapped lamp posts and knocked out power.

"When the power flicked out, the fire alarm reset and went off," said Hostrander. "The alarms were going off for 30 to 40 minutes, and a lot of people were freaking out thinking there was a fire."

Residents had to evacuate the building. Some with prior medical conditions were brought to Arnot Medical Center, while the rest were bussed to the shelter.

"They provided us with water, shelter, you know a place to sleep," said Melissa Nigro. "You know, basic necessities to keep yourself clean."

Dandy Mini Mart and Wegmans donated food and water, so evacuees had something to eat and drink. The shelter housed 53 people last night -- the majority from St. Joe's -- and volunteers are sanitizing the cots because more people are expected to come in throughout the day.

"We'll remain open as long as they need us and the EMO, Emergency Management Office, says that we have to stay open," said Shelter Manager Arlene Heffner.

The Red Cross says the shelter will remain open through Saturday. Donations are always welcome at RedCross.org.