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By Joanna Law, People's Daily Online
The New York City authorities on Friday have turned 76 schools into emergency public shelters for homeless, vulnerable people and the 375,000 people from the mandatory evacuation in anticipation for Hurricane Sandy.
On Saturday morning, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, repeatedly asked the public to stay home or go to the nearby public shelter as the superstorm batters the US east coast with its devastating power.
Don West, Deputy Chief of the Community Emergency Response Team, is stationed at the Seaward Park High School, an emergency public shelter in Chinatown of Manhattan, New York. He told reporter of People’s Daily Online USA that more than 450 people have taken refuge in the shelter since last evening.
The people who stay at the public shelters are mainly homeless, vulnerable people and residents whose living places are temporarily unsafe.
Ms. Chan, 89, a Guangdong immigrant who lives in Chinatown, said she came to the shelter on Friday evening. "My nurse cannot come to me because the subway and all public transportations have been shut down. I cannot stay home alone. Nobody takes care of me there." She added.
Apart from the Community Emergency Response Team, different agencies, including NYPDs, School Safety, and many volunteers are stationed at the shelter to answer people's questions. Subsidized by the City of New York, all emergency shelters provide refugees with cots, blankets and three meals a day. They also have rooms and food for pets.
Those who wish to stay at the shelter are required to register in the front lobby. But the City of New York prohibits any discrimination or bias selection in terms of who can stay at the shelter. All people, regardless of their race, nationality and status, are welcomed. "We take everyone and anyone here. No one will be turned away," Mr. West said.
All shelters will remain open until Wednesday. In the meanwhile, Mr. West said there is a challenge. "The challenge is what the mayor said – trying to get people to understand that we have the emergency and people need to go to shelter."