More than 240 people in the region uses Red Cross shelters. All shelters will remain open for now as disaster relief workers assess area damage.
Pam Hostetler wasn't taking any chances.
She was the first to arrive at the Red Cross evacuation shelter at the York County School of Technology on Monday, a couple hours before the brunt of Hurricane Sandy bore down on York.
The Springettsbury Township resident, 55, has had her fill of disasters.
About a decade ago, she and her daughters were inside their mobile home across the state in Somerset County when a tornado struck. It picked up the trailer and blew out the glass, causing minor injuries.
Hostetler said she still has problems with anxiety to this day because of that storm, as she recalled how she crawled out of her mobile home in the dark and saw her mangled car.
So when Hostetler heard about Sandy, the school shelter in York Township seemed like the most logical spot, even if she figured some people would think she was being paranoid.
"I just want to be somewhere where I'm really safe," she said. "That tornado was the worst thing that ever happened to me."
Hostetler was one of about a dozen people who took advantage of the set up within the first two hours, complete with cots, blankets, food, and medical staff.
Red Cross volunteer Barry Oberlander said they had no idea how many people would show up, although they could take about 100. Another shelter was set up at Northern York High School. Oberlander, who has served as a Red Cross volunteer since helping with Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, said the Red Cross tried to pick two spots that would be most accessible to people.
It might be helpful to have more locations, he said, but the Red Cross wouldn't be able to support that many shelters at once. The number of evacuees can vary widely and it's tough to predict, he added.
"That's the toughest part of opening a shelter - the uncertainty,'" Oberland said.
Red Lion's Dan Nonemaker, 58, doesn't like facing uncertainty, either. Losing power would have severe medical consequences for him since he relies on an oxygen machine and other devices to help him breathe.
"I get really paranoid about it. Scared, actually," Nonemaker said.
Like most people using the shelter, he thought it's "better to be safe than sorry."
"I thought I'd come just to be on the safe side," he said.
Pets: The School of Technology is located at 2179 S. Queen St. , while Northern High School is at 653 S. Baltimore St. in Dillsburg. Red Cross officials ask those who plan to use the shelter to bring medications, identification, pillows, towels, blankets, clothes, and things for entertainment. The Red Cross can be reached at 845-2751.
Anyone needing shelter for their pets should drop the animals off at the York County SPCA, as the Red Cross shelters cannot accommodate pets. The SPCA is located at 3159 N. Susquehanna Trail in York.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org